Author Archives: Jake

It seems like a good time to start a Ladder.

There are a handful of solid Kubb Clubs around the Midwest and several of them have ongoing ladder tournaments. There are several reasons why we haven’t had one in the Twin Cities/Minneapolis:

  1. Amongst our group of friends, playing Kubb on a team has always been the way we prefer to play. We like to play as a social activity. Running a team ladder would be difficult.
  2. We didn’t think a formal system to prove who was the best Kubb player seemed necessary.
  3. Further more, proving who amongst us was the worst Kubb player is not something that would further our goals.

That said, when I heard how our friends in Chaska used their ladder to determine who’d play together in Nationals, and then when I witnessed how strong King Pin was this year in several tournaments, the idea of a ladder started sounding more appealing.

To me, next week seems like perfect time to start a Ladder tournament in Minneapolis and here’s why:

  1. The temperature in MN dropped in to the thirties this week and it’ll be harder to convince any sizable group to show up and play kubb with you for the next 5 to 6 months. (I know… it’s depressing.) The ladder will help encourage people to play kubb in the winter which is something we’re obviously interested in.
  2. This gives us the option of running a “winter-only” ladder if we decide that the ladder isn’t something we want to be doing all year long.
  3. The Chaska 1 v 1 Tourney is this weekend and at least 4 people who’d want to play in this ladder will participate – meaning we can simply use the tournament results to seed the ladder.

I plan to “run” the ongoing Ladder tournament, although I don’t plan to start with a lot of formal rules. A broad explanation of a ladder tournament can be found on wikipedia. If we decide that we need more structure, I’ll look to DMK, who’s ladder is well defined and who’s rules are well tested.  I will make a more formal web page about our ladder with the results soon.

I got out to buy some tags last weekend:

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Yes, they are the sort of tag you get when you park your car with a valet at some old restaurant like Nye’s Polonaise Room. Yes, they start at 101. I think that might help keep the top player’s ego in check. Yes, I couldn’t find 105 so I got one a black one with the number 55 on it. The place I bought them is called “Hunt & Gather” for a reason. If you were there with me you’d be proud that I did as well as I did. I also didn’t find 110, but I actually think that should be some sort of awesome prize that I haven’t conceived of yet. This is the sort of ladder I’m going for.

So for those of you who are playing in Chaska this weekend and consider yourself part of our loosely defined club, there’s something in it for you even if you can’t beat the players who I won’t name here. (but if anyone wants to put a little money on it…)

Anyway, I know I’m not the only one around here who’s excited to play in this ladder and to see how it shakes out.

Thanks for your interest,

Jake is not registered for Nationals in Eau Claire

For the last 4 years I’ve played in the U. S. National Kubb Championship. For the first three years it was a minimum 2 player team tournament and I played with a different partner each year. Last year I played with two friends as Börk! Börk! Börk!. We had a pretty good time and played some competitive Kubb.

I think my teammates from last year and I made a good enough team that we would have done it again this year, but one of them is in South America for the summer.

I knew he wouldn’t be able to play and that we needed a third, but I had thought it would work itself out somehow. I could try and blame a cold wet spring, or some other external factor, but tomorrow is the deadline for registrations and Börk! Börk! Börk! does not have a third player and is not registered.

I guess this blog post is a last ditch effort to see if there is anyone else in a similar boat. My partner Josh and I don’t even care too much about playing on the same team, but we’ll almost definitely go to the tournament. Our friends John Kubbar Mellencamp will let us throw a few batons with them if we’d like, and Eric Anderson said it might not be a bad idea to show up looking for a team and see if somebody needs a last minute third. I’m pretty excited about the “5th Year” buttons they’re giving out and I’ll get one somehow.

So it all boils down to this:
Josh and I are not picky and if anyone wants to compete in the championship with us on July 13th in Eau Claire, we’d love a register a team. We’re not tied to a team name or anything. I’d also like to know if you’ve got a team that needs a third. Please send me an email or facebook message in the next 24 hours.

Thanks for reading,

Our First Midwest Kubb Association Tournament

We arrived at about 11:30am last Saturday at Lake Harriet to find about 50 kubb players milling around 7 or 8 shoveled and painted kubb pitches out about 75 yards off the shoreline. Almost everybody had a beer in their hand and was chatting with their friends. They’d also constructed a snow man and started a small bonfire on the lake. Some nice touches we should consider for our next winter tournament.

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John Sather picked out who we were right away and pointed us towards his sister who’d come up from Chicago to be here and help run the tournament. We paid our fees and hung around for until about noon when things started. I should mention that I didn’t see anyone practicing even though most players were present at least a half hour before they started. This is your first indication that this group does things a little differently.

At this point I encourage you to read the info I put on in the Planet Kubb Wiki for more specifics about how Midwest Kubb Association tournament are run.

Around noon we all met at the snow man for a reading of the rules, which were incomplete, but I don’t blame them. No one ever has time to really go over rules before a kubb tournament. After that we all picked slips of paper with numbers out of a stocking cap. We reported our team number to the tournament coordinator and she told us the name of our partner and assigned us a pitch. I should have been more excited when she told me my partner was “Destiny”, but somehow I knew that I wouldn’t be playing with “The hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future”. Destiny was a skinny blonde girl in her early 20s who had played some kubb last summer, but never in the snow.

The 4 teams in our round robin shared a pitch. I believe all of the sets where Bex. I started out really strong in the first game. One of the guys on the opposing team threw his first baton completely side ways holding it in the middle. It was as “Helicopterish” as you could get and everyone who saw him do it corrected him right away, although I saw a lot of shots that seemed more that 45% off vertical and I didn’t see anyone else get called on it. Their rule is just that you need to throw from the end. We beat that first team, but lost to the second one quickly. Our third match got down to a missed king shot, but that team also really hard on us about the order in which we threw and penalized a few batons for it. In hindsight, I hope the guy on that team was just giving us a hard time because he thought it was the only way he’d beat us and it may have been… 🙂

So with a 1 and 2 showing in the round robin, Destiny and I didn’t even make it in to bracket play, but that was no reason to leave this tournament. I did run out to get some beer so I could fit in with the crowd a little more and returned to see that Eric’s Team and Lee’s Team had been making short work of their opponents. Anders and his teammate had more success than I did, but they were eliminated around the time I returned.

I should mention that even during round robin play, because teams were waiting to play on your pitch, several player would stick around to give you pointers or heckle whoever was throwing. I got a kick out of a recurring joke where they’d say say “Throw this one higher, now this one lower.”

As the Semi-Finals started everyone huddled around two pitches. The teams were becoming much more evenly matched and with single elimination play, these games were getting intense. I feel like there was a lot more cheering, but also spectators calling players who got a little to close to the line with their “Minneapolis Step”. There was just a lot of fun energy building.


Eric’s partner Pete was really good for a guy who’d never played in a tournament before had at least one friend who was coaching them through out the tournament and joined Anders and I cheering them in to the finals game. This different rule set also seemed to agree with Lee, who played some of his best Kubb. although anyone who’s seen him play knows he’s an underrated player. He also had the luck to be paired with a strong player named Jason Emery who’d been playing with the Midwest Kubb Association for years and read the rules at the beginning of the day.

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I believe Anders took the photo above after the initial toss to determine who’d go first in the first game of the final match and as you can see, these both got about as close as you can.

I don’t remember exactly how it went, but I think Lee and Jason just barely took the first game in the final match, potentially after a missed King shot. Eric and Pete fought back and won the second one. During the rubber match Jason’s friends were taunting him from the sideline saying there was no way he could win because he’d never done it before. I was standing near Lisa the tournament coordinator and commented on all the heckling and it’s tough to be playing in the finals with a bunch of close friends giving you a hard time. I actually think Eric and Lee had an mental  advantage because no one really knew them. Despite all this Jason was making most of his shots and Lee was in the zone.

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Beginning of the final turn of the last game.

I wish I had some video of the finish. I’m probably bias because I knew members of both teams pretty well, but it was as exciting as the end of any Kubb tournament I’ve ever been too.  I’m not sure if anyone was taping but there are some photos from last weekend up on the MKA Videos and Photos page.

On Monday I mailled John at MKA to thank him for letting us play and asked if it’d be alright if we tried to join them again sometime. He was glad we’d come and gave me info about how to keep in touch with them. I guess that Lee’s partner Jason is running a tournament in Minneapolis sometime this spring and I’d think he’ll be happy to take as many people as I can get together for that. I’ll keep everyone in the loop on Facebook.


This is everyone. Eric and Lee are kneeling in front. I’m off on the far right and Anders is in there somewhere.

What we’re up to next weekend:

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably done a few google searches with the word “kubb” in the past. I’m not exactly sure when I became aware that there was a group of Kubb players here in the Twin Cities who were throwing their own tournaments and playing by different rules than what I was used to, but I found their website a couple years ago:

I’d heard that some of the Kubb players I knew had come across and spoken a little with people from this group, but I’m fairly certain I had not contacted them before a few weeks ago.

As I was talking about how our Winter Tournament had gone with some friends, they said they’d been beaten by “Midwest Kubb Killers” and I made the connection to Midwest Kubb Association. This brought me back to their site to realize that MKA was throwing a tournament on Lake Harriet (just south of Lake Calhoun where we held our tourney) next weekend. I decided I’d just try and contact them through a contact form on the site and see if they’d let me and a few friends play.

John Sather at MKA responded via email and said we were welcome to play, provided us with a brief explanation of their rules, and asked for the names for his list.

So we’re in, and excited to play a different version of Kubb with a fresh new group of people.

Before I get in to more details I want to explain that the way these guys play Kubb is actually very similar to the way that many of my friends and I learned to play when we first heard about Kubb. We must have played this way for an entire summer and it became our favorite backyard game. Over the winter or in that next spring we decided that we wanted to go play at the biggest tournament in the country and they had different rules based on what the international tournament was doing. We switched and prefer the US National Championship rules, but still occasionally played like this for a change of pace or nostalgic reasons.

Alright, this is what I understand to be the the differences in the way the Midwest Kubb Associations plays:

UPDATE: Some of these assumptions turned out to be wrong. Check the Planet Kubb Wiki page for the real info.

  • They are eliminating downed field kubbs from the game after they’ve been inkast and knocked over once.
  • They seem to be willing to stack a kubb on top of any other kubb (baseline, or field kubb) that it touches when inkast, but may have a limit of 3 to a stack.
  • I assume “field advantage” exists because it happens so rarely with kubbs getting eliminated.
  • In the video I’ve seen on their site, I’ve only seen them place penalty kubbs behind kings, although that may be optional.
  • When all your opponents kubbs are down, you only get one shot per turn at the king, but you don’t need “one in the clip” to take the shot.
  • Their pitches are all sprayed or chalked in so its clear when kubbs are on or out. If they are touching the middle or baseline they are out, but the sideline is all in.

I think that covers rules,  but the tournament is run differently than any tournament I’ve played in as well:

  • Each player pays a fee to get in.
  • Players are paired randomly (which should help us get to know these guys).
  • The championship match is best two out of three, but everyone else plays single games.
  • There are some scoring and tiebreaking rules that seem different, but I’m not even sure they get used regularly and won’t go in to detail.

So this is what we’re in for next weekend. It’s sure to be fun and I’d guess it will have more of a poker tournament feel than we’re used to.

We practiced this way yesterday and we’re sure these rules speed things up considerably. Eight meter shots are the most important in every version of kubb you’ll play, but more so with this ruleset than the way we usually use. I’m looking forward to a much shorter, compact tournament that’s a little over a mile from my house, starts close to noon and has me home in time for dinner.

If anyone wants to come check it out, let me know and I can try and get you more details.


Registration is finalized

Here is the Final List of Registered Teams for the 2013 City of Lakes Loppet Winter Kubb Tourney.

Although we have 50 teams registered, we anticipate a 48 team tournament. Please contact us ASAP if you need to drop out. We’ve had last minute drop outs every year, but there are also some teams we could combine or potentially split to make the number work out.

Thanks to all the teams.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.

We got a dusting of snow last night

Every Kubb tournament probably hosts players that are concerned about what the condition of the pitches will be, but our tournament probably has more variable conditions than any other.

In an effort to help you all track what the surface of Lake Calhoun will look like, I found this Webcam:

KARE 11’s “Lake Calhoun” Sky Cam

This is camera moves and is sometimes pointed towards Calhoun’s neighbor, Lake of the Isles. They are connected and probably have a similar amount of snow on them.

I’m not sure how often this picture is updated, but it should change here on our site, unless your web browser caches the image.

The First Attempt to Create an Ice King

Back in August I posed this question to Ask Planet Kubb:


A few weeks ago, realizing the tournament was fast approaching and there was plenty of cold to help me freeze ice in my backyard, I gave this idea an admittedly half-assed shot:

(Side Note: The wooden king you see in the following pictures is the king from my set, which is the longest running set amongst any of my friends in Minneapolis and played a major role in making the Tad Kubbler guys and most of the rest of us the players we are today. I need to purchase some wood glue so I can throw out the duct tape and patch it properly.)

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So I went in my basement and found a box that fairly close to King sized: 13 x 11 x 4 inches. I cut in it half.

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I took the other half of the box and used a box cutter to make it sort of a liner so the size was closer to correct and the sides of the king wouldn’t have creases. I also tried to shorten the interior a bit.

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Then I found a plastic bag. The bag pictured here leaked and had to be replaced the next day, but you can see that it got filled with water and I could stick my hand in the water and kind of try to flatten out the folds, but I didn’t do that great of a job of that.

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Here we are two or three days later and as you can see, the bag froze in to the ice. This pink bag also wasn’t big enough, which is why the top isn’t square.

On the plus side, I proved that I could freeze a block of ice that was about the right proportions and  although it doesn’t look like much here, I think it would have looked pretty cool if I had carefully tried to get the rest of the bag off using warm water. Also, It may be easier to create a hollow ice king which is closer to regulation weight than you’d anticipate because as the block freezes you can see how much unfrozen water is inside and potentially drill a few holes to drain that excess water/weight.

This was just my first try and with a temperature drop in the forecast, I think I might give it another go.

That said, the main reason I wrote this post is to encourage anyone with the motivation to build a wood frame or something more elaborate. If a really nice looking Ice King shows up at the tournament, and the final teams are willing to use it, I’m certain Eric G will allow it. If you make on and no one else wants to play with it, you can definitely put it in play against my team.