Kubb (pronounced IPA|/kʉb/ in Swedish or IPA|/kub/ in Gutnish) is a lawn game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them.

Kubb can be simply described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. Today's version originated on Gotland island, Sweden.

Rules vary from country to country and from region to region, but the ultimate object of the game is to knock the "King" over, before your opponent does. This, combined with the fact that there is a surprising level of strategy that can be used by players, has led some players and kubb fans to nickname the game "Viking Chess." However, unlike chess, if a player or team knocks over the king before achieving their objectives, that player/team immediately loses the game. Some games have been known to last for hours.

The game can be played on a variety of surfaces such as sand, concrete, grass, or even ice.

Kubb is a good game for children (under supervision), although in such cases, the 8-meter pitch length (specified in some instructions), ought to be shortened.


Although it is often claimed that the game dates back to the Viking Age and has survived on Gotland, there doesn't appear to be any firm evidence of this. In fact; "Föreningen Gutnisk Idrott" ("The Society of Gotland Games"), formed in 1912, does not list Kubb as one of the traditional games from Gotland. There is anecdotal evidence of Kubb being played in various places in Sweden in the early 20th century, but how similar those rules were to the ones used today, is unknown.

The key feature of the game (opposing teams throwing) is shared by the games Kyykkä and Bunnock, both of which come from Karelia or neighbouring areas.

The game became popular in the 1990s when commercial Kubb sets were first manufactured. These first sets used wood available from a factory producing for the catering industryFact|date=November 2007, so the king piece was based on a large meat tenderiser, and the sticks based on pastry rolling pins. The dimensions and weight of these pieces have remained standard since then.

The game has now gained international interest, and an annual World Championship has been held since 1995 on Gotland. Small scale tournaments are also becoming increasingly popular on college campuses.

Game pieces

There are typically twenty-one game pieces used in Kubb:
*Ten Kubbs, rectangular wooden blocks 15 cm tall and 7 cm square on the end. [http://www.vmkubb.com/rules/english.pdf]
*One King, a larger wooden piece 30 cm tall and 9 cm square on the end, sometimes adorned with a crown design on the top. [http://www.vmkubb.com/rules/english.pdf]
*Six Sticks, wooden batons around 30 cm long and anywhere from 3–5 cm in diameter.
*Four Stakes, or other markers, to designate the corners of the pitch.

There is considerable variation in the design of these pieces. In some sets, every piece apart from the King has a circular cross-section, whereas in others, every piece has a square cross-section.

In Nordic countries the game is widely available, but elsewhere it is not well known, so most purchases are via the Web.


Kubb is typically played on a rectangular pitch approximately 5 m by 8 m. Although there are no official rules as to the size of the field, the dimensions can be altered for younger players or to accommodate faster games. Typically the pitch is grass, but kubb could also be played on sand, snow, or dirt. The pitch should always be level, with no more than a 3 inch drop from one end -- or one side -- to the other.

Stakes are driven into the ground at the corners of the pitch. No other markers are used to demarcate the field's boundaries. The narrow ends are called "baselines."

The king is placed in the centre of the pitch, halfway between baselines. An imaginary line drawn through the king and parallel to the two baselines divides the field into two halves.

The kubbs are set up across each baseline, five to a side.


Any number of people may play kubb, but typically matches are one-on-one or two teams of two.There are two phases for each team's turn:
#Team A throws the six sticks, from their baseline, at their opponent's lined-up kubbs (called Baseline kubbs). Throws must be under-handed, and the sticks must spin end over end. Throwing sticks sideways or spinning them side-to-side is not allowed.
#Kubbs that are successfully knocked down are then thrown by Team B onto Team A's half of the pitch, and stood on end. These newly thrown kubbs are called "field kubbs". Deciding where in the opponent's half to throw the field Kubbs is a very important part of the strategy - as a rule of thumb, the more you have to return, the further back you should throw them. However the key requirement is to keep them in close proximity to each other.

Play then changes hands, and Team B throws the sticks at Team A's kubbs, but must first knock down any standing field kubbs. (Field kubbs that right themselves due to the momentum of the impact are considered knocked down.) Again, kubbs that are knocked down are thrown back over onto the opposite half of the field and then stood. In New Zealand, knocking down a Baseline kubb before all field kubbs would result in the throwing team forfeiting the rest of their turn.

If either team leaves field kubbs standing, the kubb closest to the king now represents that side's baseline, and throwers may step up to that line to throw at their opponent's kubbs. This rule applies to field and baseline kubbs only; fallen kubbs are thrown from the original baseline, as are attempts to knock over the king.

Play continues in this fashion until a team is able to knock down all kubbs on one side, from both the field and the baseline. If that team still has sticks left to throw, they now attempt to knock over the king. If a thrower successfully topples the king, they have won the game.

However, if at any time during the game the king is knocked down by accident -- even by a newly thrown kubb -- the offending team immediately loses the game.

Victors are typically determined by playing best out of three.

For informal play between players of widely differing abilities, such as an adult and a child it is permissible to shorten the width of the arena on the child's opponent's side, making it easier for the child to hit the kubbs, and it is also permissible to move the king closer to, but not behind, the child's line. Also, one team may get more sticks than the other.


* [http://www.vmkubb.com/about/rules.asp World championship] held annually on the island of Gotland.
* [http://www.KubbUK.org UK tournament] held every year near Bristol.
* [http://www.wisconsinkubb.com U.S. Midwest Kubb Championship] is held in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, U.S.A. every summer.
* In the U.S.A, Seattle, Washington, is holding a [http://www.seattlekubb.com tournament] in Spring and hopes to join with Wisconsin every summer with a dual tournament, two tournaments in sync 1,700 miles apart.

External links

* [http://www.e-whizz.com.au/outdoor-living/outdoor-games/kubb/prod_20.html Pictures, Rules, Video and Kub Sets]
* [http://www.oldtimegames.com/ Pictures, Rules, Tournaments, Kubb games]
* [http://www.kubbin.com/ Kubb pictures, community, tournaments, newsletter links & sets]
* [http://dmoz.org/Games/Yard,_Deck,_and_Table_Games/Kubb/ Kubb category at Open Directory Project]
* [http://www.kubb.co.uk History and Rules of Kubb] - kubb.co.uk
* [http://www.eskildsen.info/SN/807/18#Post Dan Eskildsen's personal photo album including photos of people playing Kubb]
* [http://www.Kubbspel.com The Kubbspel] - www.Kubbspel.com
* [http://www.zerothousand.net/zkubb.html ZKubb ] ZKubb, a liquor and insult infused variation, and instructions to make game pieces, by ZeroThousand (Seattle)
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/may/30/sweden Coverage in The Guardian by Tim Dowelling]
* [http://www.TossingGames.com Tossing Games] - www.TossingGames.com

Kubb around the world

* [http://www.kubbspel.be/2008 KUBB in Belgium]
* [http://www.wisconsinkubb.com Wisconsin Kubb] Wisconsin Kubb (USA)
* [http://www.seattlekubb.com SeattleKubb.com] Seattle, WA Kubb - www.SeattleKubb.com
* [http://www.kubb.it/ KUBB in Europe] - European Kubb Portal (Tournaments)
* [http://www.folk.is/kubb/ KUBB in Iceland] - KUBB in Iceland
* [http://www.kubb-union.de/ German Kubb Association - Kubb tournaments, community and links] - Kubb Union e.V.
* [http://www.vmkubb.com/about/rules.asp World championships] , held since 1995 on Gotland
* [http://www.swisskubb.ch Swiss Kubb Platform] - www.swisskubb.ch
* [http://www.kubb-spiel.de German Kubb Website including Rules] - www.kubb-spiel.de
* [http://www.big-love.org.uk Team Great Britain Kubb Team] - www.big-love.org.uk
* [http://www.KubbUK.org The British Kubb Players Association] - BKPA
* [http://www.italiankubb.org Italian Kubb Group] - GIK
* [http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/madisonkubbclub Madison, WI Kubb Club] Madison Kubb Club
* [http://www.myspace.com/kubbligans SW Kubbligans] Southwest High School Kubbligans in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
* [http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/US_Kubb/ U.S. Kubb] U.S. Kubb Yahoo Group

ee also

* Bunnock, the Canadian equivalent.
* Tournament Of Knights, a similar Swedish game using balls.
* Bowling
* Game of physical skill
* Kyykkä, a similar Finnish game
* Mölkky
* Lawn game

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