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Kubb (pronounced [kʉb] in Swedish or [kub] in Gutnish) is a lawn game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them.

Kubb can be simply described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. Today's version originated on Gotland island, Sweden.

Rules vary from country to country and from region to region, but the ultimate object of the game is to knock the "King" over, before your opponent does. This, combined with the fact that there is a certain level of strategy that can be used by players, has led some players and kubb fans to nickname the game "Viking Chess." However, unlike chess, if a player or team knocks over the king before achieving their objectives, that player/team immediately loses the game. Some games have been known to last for hours.

The game can be played on a variety of surfaces such as sand, concrete, grass, or even ice.

Kubb is a good game for children (under supervision), although in such cases, the 8-meter pitch length (specified in some instructions), is often shortened.



Although it is often claimed that the game dates back to the Viking Age and has survived on Gotland, there doesn't appear to be any firm evidence of this. In fact; Föreningen Gutnisk Idrott (The Society of Gotland Games), formed in 1912, does not list Kubb as one of the traditional games from Gotland. There is anecdotal evidence of games called Kubb being played in various places in Sweden in the early 20th century, but how similar those rules were to the ones used today, is unknown.

The game in its modern conception became popular in the 1990s when commercial Kubb sets were first manufactured. The key feature of the game (opposing teams throwing) is shared by the games Kyykkä and Bunnock, both of which come from Karelia or neighbouring areas.

The game has now gained international interest, and an annual World Championship has been held since 1995 on Gotland. Small scale tournaments are also becoming increasingly popular on college campuses.

Game pieces

There are typically twenty-one game pieces used in Kubb:

  • Ten Kubbs, rectangular wooden blocks 15 cm tall and 7 cm square on the end. [1]
  • One King, a larger wooden piece 30 cm tall and 9 cm square on the end, sometimes adorned with a crown design on the top. [2]
  • Six Sticks, wooden batons around 30 cm long and anywhere from 3–5 cm in diameter.
  • Four Stakes, or other markers, to designate the corners of the pitch.

There is considerable variation in the design of these pieces. In some sets, every piece apart from the King has a circular cross-section, whereas in others, every piece has a square cross-section.

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