Viking Chess: Playing Kubb on a Cool Summer Day

Kubb, pronounced “kobb”, is a traditional Swedish game of patience, tactics, and beer. At least, that’s how I learned how to play it a few weeks ago with buddy Peter Ulrich of natural born friedrichshainer fame.

Kubb can look more complicated than it really is. The set up is quite simple. First you need a grassy area roughly 8 x 10 meters. Then you’ll have to have a set of wooden game pieces:

  • 4 pegs (to mark the boundaries)
  • 6 batons, ca. 30cm long (to throw)
  • 10 stumpy square wooden blocks, ca. 15cm tall (to knock over)
  • 1 king-sized block, ca. 30cm tall (to conquer!)

Line up the stumpy blocks, five on each side. One team starts off with the six batons and throws them one by one across the playing field. The goal is to topple over each of the stumpy wooden blocks before ultimately knocking over the king. The only really tricky part is that you can only throw the batons underhand, so that while thrown, the baton flips over itself end-to-end, not sideways or what Peter called “helicopter style”.

Also, when you’ve knocked over a stumpy block, your team wins the piece and throws it up to midfield on your side. Your team can then start the next round from where the block lands, rather than from the initial baseline. Plus, to make the game a little more exciting, the opposing team must knock over that newly conquered blocks before finishing off the original five and finally getting to the KING!

So, that’s all there is to this summery Viking lawn game. You can buy a Kubb set or make your own; either way, it’ll be good fun.

Images: Kubb in Friedrichshain. Michelle Thorne. CC BY SA 3.0 US; Kubb. Public Domain. Contributed by Xerxes minor.

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