Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sports Talk: Kubb, a New Yard Game Favorite

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published June 12, 2013. 

Reunions and outdoor picnics come with several staples: good food and enjoyable company. Hopefully there is pleasant weather and, for a definite good time, there will also be music and yard games.

Horseshoes and croquet have been around quite a long time. Cornhole (or beanbag toss as some may call it) and yard golf (or hillbilly golf) have become more and more common in the past decade or so.

These games are great for multiple reasons:
   (1) Anyone can play because being good doesn’t matter that much.
   (2) They are easy to set up, take down and transport
   (3) Most can be made yourself out of basic materials

A new game has come to my attention this spring and summer, and the more I see it played the more I’m convinced it’s a winner.

Kubb, also known as “Viking Chess”, is often described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. The object of the game to knock over wooden blocks with sticks.

Yes, I know. It sounds extremely primitive… but maybe that’s why they call it Viking Chess? And keep in mind… Throwing bean bags at a hole doesn’t sound that much better! But as most of us know, the competition quickly turns to fun.

One of the best parts of Kubb is that it’s easy to play with a large group of people. While most other yard games are played in two teams of two (four people total), Kubb is usually played by at least teams of three (six total) or even more. Six sticks are thrown on each team’s turn, easily allowing six per team and 12 players total.

This past weekend I attended my cousin’s high school graduation celebration. My older brother was given a Kubb set several years ago by our uncle who made the set himself. For whatever reason, this spring was the first time my brother actually got the game out and learned how to play, but it has been a hit at every gathering so far.

With a large amount of people at last weekend’s event, I think most who ended up trying Kubb first did so because the other games were full. However, by the end of the evening, it was the only game being played and had turned into quite the scene.

Several of my uncles and cousins had been playing earlier in the afternoon when the graduate and several of his friends decided it was their turn to play. Rather than turning the field over to the group of high school grads, those previously playing took it as a challenge and said they had to earn the field first. Next thing I knew, it had turned into a game of about eight vs. eight. The high school graduates verses the “adults”.
This made me laugh, being that the “adult” team was primarily composed of my brother, husband and cousins and their significant others. Being that we all graduated high school and college around the same time and are in our late 20s, being called the “adults” by 18-19 year-olds felt pretty funny, but I guess it just means we’re getting old!

While the younger team originally took the challenge from the “adults” in order to get in a victory and then be able to play themselves, it turned into an on-going event of endless games until cell phone lights were being used to find the sticks in the dark.

Watching them from the deck above the field my cousin who had never played or heard of the game, saw the scene of 15-20 people playing and watching and asked, “So, they’re just throwing sticks around??” It’s hard not to laugh at such a simple idea, but you might be surprised how fun and competitive it gets.

If you’ve not yet heard of or played Kubb, look it up online. Sets can be purchased or easily made. You could be the first to introduce your friends and family to a new yard game favorite!

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