If you’ve never heard of Kubb, you’re not alone. We hadn’t either.
Kubb, also known as Viking Chess, is a lawn game. It combines skill and strategy, and it’s so much fun you won’t realize you’re also getting a little exercise.
“So the idea is to throw the batons at these little guys,” says Josh Feathers as he juggles two wooden blocks. “We call them Kubbs.”
He’s been playing Kubb since 2008 and has competed in the national championships the last three years. He also introduced his uncle, Steve Feathers to the game.
“I got bitten by the Kubb bug,” says Steve.
Legend has it, the Vikings played Kubb after conquering a region. There’s definitely some mystique surrounding this strategic game.
Kubbs that are knocked over are then thrown by the opposing team. The Kubbs are then stood up on their ends, before being knocked down again.
“There is defense involved and you don’t see that very often with lawn games,” says Josh.
In the middle of it all is he King. The first team to knock it down, wins. And the victory is celebrated by people on both teams.
“Part of the Kubb culture is to cheer on your opponents,” says Josh.
Take it from us, this is harder than it looks. Are tosses are followed by oo’s and aw’s. We wince when the baton misses a Kubb – or worse skips right over it.
“I could not be any worse at this,” says Erin.
But it’s fun and family friendly.
“My wife, Sue plays. My daughters both play,” says Steve.
And it’s gotten him off the couch. He’s lost 25-pounds and kept it off for a year.
“I attribute most of it to Kubb… This allows me to get out.”
Kubb also helped Steve rehab after knee replacement surgery. He’s pain-free and mobile less than a year after the surgery.
The game has given so much to Steve and his family, they and the Des Moines Kubb Club have decided to give something back. Each year the club donates the proceeds of its tournament to a local non-profit. Last year, the club raised more than $2,000 for Blank Children’s Hospital. This year, the club is raising money for The Iowa Food Bank.
The goal of the game is to knock things down, but it’s building people up along the way.
The Des Moines Kubb Club is holding its annual tournament at Tower Park in Des Moines on Saturday, September 21. Members will offer demonstrations on Kubb. The tournament will also serve as a drop-off sight for The Food Bank of Iowa.