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WHAT IS KUBB? Outdoor tournament draws players from all across Midwest to Chatfield

CHATFIELD, Minn. (FOX 47) — With colder weather approaching and COVID cases on the rise across the state, today could have been one of the last great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

Saturday morning in Chatfield, some were doing just that at a kubb tournament hosted by a local business.

Nicknamed ‘Viking Chess’, kubb is a lawn game on an 8 by 5 meter playing field or pitch where you throw six batons at wooden targets or kubbs.

The US Kubb National Championship is in Eau Claire and draws a lot of participants. However, with that and many other events cancelled, Chatfield’s PawPrint Brewery decided to host a tournament themselves.

“I didn’t know anything about Kubb. There’s still a lot of people out there that do not understand this game,” said owner James Kenison.

Opening right before the pandemic, PawPrint Brewery in Chatfield decided to host a kubb tournament to help its business as well as give people a chance to enjoy outdoor fun.

“Every business has to be creative and try to make things work for their business,” Kenison said. “Doing this outdoor event has been a huge success so far.”

Two teams from Chatfield were present, but players came as far as Illinois.
One of the event officials is from the kubb Capital of North America, Eau Claire, and has been playing for more than six years.

“This is fantastic and it’s a naturally socially distanced game anyway,” said participant Nick Bril.

This year has seen fewer kubb tournaments because of COVID.

“Every year we go to about 10 or 11 tournaments,” Bril said. “This year we’ve only been able to do two.”

It may be most popular in Eau Claire and Scandinavia but kubb is a game played all across the world.

“You can play this game virtually, on grass, frozen ponds, and in the sand,” said Illinois kubb player Dan Ivanuck. “Virtually, we’ve been playing people from Belgium, Los Angeles and Arkansas.”

The team from Illinois were even practicing against competitors overseas Friday night to prepare for Saturday’s tournament. It’s not just throwing batons that is so fun.

“For me, I love to be outside. I love to be competitive, win or lose. Frankly, the people in the kubb community have become like an extension of family,” said Ivanuck’s teammate Matt Green.

Getting good at the game just requires a lot of practice.

“It’s kind of a muscle memory game. Repetition makes perfect. There is a bit of strategy,” Bril said. “Like I tell people, if you want to play, just get out in the yard and get at it.”

“I think we’re going to go ahead and do this every year.”

Kenison says that Pawprint Brewery is looking to survive the colder months by expanding their outdoor seating capacity.

He also says after the success of the tournament, PawPrint is considering hosting a winter kubb event or even a league, if there is interest in the area.

For more about the game including the full rules, find out here.

Alex Tejada

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