2015 US National Kubb Championship
The Kubb Capital of North America hosts the ninth annual “Viking Chess” battle
Norwegian American Weekly
In mid-July, hundreds of people gathered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to play the Nordic game of kubb, the lawn game that many call “Viking Chess.” But it wasn’t all fun and games; it was the 2015 U.S. National Kubb Championship!
The kubb tournament in Eau Claire began modestly in 2007 with just 36 players and 15 teams. But the tournament grew rapidly; by the second year it was the U.S. Midwest Championship, and in 2010 it officially became the U.S. National Championship. It is now the largest kubb tournament outside of Europe, and Eau Claire became the official “Kubb Capital of North America” in 2011.
As a fundraiser, the Kubb Championship donates profits from the event to Girls on the Run of Eau Claire County, a girl empowerment initiative operating programs in elementary schools, as well as We Help War Victims, a non-profit working with villages in Southeast Asia. In addition, it raises money for the Steven Anderson Kubb Set Grant, which provides free kubb sets to organizations that are promoting kubb.
The ninth annual tournament welcomed 376 players from 14 states—and even one from Sweden—forming 108 teams. Held at Eau Claire Soccer Park on July 11 and 12, the event was open to all: novice or pro. This year also marked the second Kid Kubb championship, held on July 10, to get kids interested in the game.
If you haven’t played kubb before, here are the basics:
• The playfield is a five- by eight-meter rectangle. There are ten kubbs (split between the two baselines), six throwing batons, a king placed in the middle, and six pins to mark the field’s corners and center line.
• Each match is played by two teams. In the U.S. Championship, each team must be made up of a minimum of three people and at least half of the team must be from North America.
• The objective is to knock down all of the kubbs on the opposing team’s baseline by throwing the batons. Each team member can throw no more than two batons per turn. When a kubb is hit, the opposing team must throw it to the other side of the field and knock it down before continuing to aim for the baseline kubbs. Once all of the opposing team’s kubbs are knocked over, the team must knock down the king to win. (But note that hitting the king before the kubbs will result in an automatic loss!)
At the start of the National Championship, the teams were formed into groups of four. They played three round-robin matches with the teams in their group. To win the match, the team had to win two of three games.
For the first time this year, the U.S. Championship used the 2-4-6 open. After the team that won the opening king toss had decided which side to start on or which team would start, two members of the first team threw two batons. Then three or more members of the second team threw four batons. The six batons were then used for the remainder of the game, as usual.
All teams then entered the playoffs and went into either the Championship Bracket, Consolidation Bracket, or 2nd Consolidation Bracket depending on their results. On Sunday, the final eight teams in the Championship Bracket then returned for the finals. The top four teams received medals. The winners of the 2015 U.S. Kubb Championship Finals were:
• Gold: Furor Celtica of Roscoe, Ill.; Fitchberg, Wis.; and Des Moines, Iowa
• Silver: Ringers ft. Rekubblikanerna Stockholm of Eau Claire, Wis., and Stockholm, Sweden
• Bronze: Damage Incorporated of Des Moines, Iowa; Eau Claire, Wis.; and Waukesha, Wis.
• Fourth: Kubbitz of Eau Claire, Wis.
As the champions, the team of Furor Celtica will be celebrated with their names added to the Stapp King—the meter-tall king piece used as the trophy.
Next year, the stakes will be even higher when the teams return for the 10th anniversary of the Eau Claire Kubb Tournament!
This article originally appeared in the July 24, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.