by Lady Ydeneya de Baillencourt
Kubb is a lawn game that appears to have originated in the Viking era, although there are arguments against this. It is sometimes referred to as “viking chess” as some games include a lot of strategy and can last for hours.
The object of the game is to knock over pieces by throwing sticks at them. There are 10 kubbs, one king and six throwing sticks used in a game of kubb. The corners of the pitch are marked with stakes. The arrangement of pieces and the rules of the game are attached.
I was given two off cut pieces of a decorative bedpost by Lady Rosalind and thought they would make a very nice Kings for a kubb sets if painted up, even though they were somewhat taller than the pieces normally used in a kubb set I decided not to cut them down as it would ruin the nice proportions of the pieces.
I decided to base the design of the kings upon the king from a deck of cards. I also cut up a piece of 3″ square pine to create the 10 kubbs, and a 1″ square piece of jarrah to make the throwing pieces.
Five of the kubbs were painted purple and five green, and a simple design was cut from heavy card and stencilled on them, faces were painted free hand to give varying expressions. The King was painted completely freehand. I decided to leave the throwing sticks ( or batons) unpainted at this stage. I have only entered one of the two sets I painted.
I enjoyed painting up the set and am happy with how it turned out. This set has been used many times already and the only problem encountered is setting up on slightly uneven ground it is difficult to get the pieces to stand up, however I thinking this would be a problem with most sets.
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.