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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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September 23, 2020

8/7/2020 1:10:00 PM
KUBBers mark five years; virus no obstacle

There was something going on in a Chisago City yard, that opened out at the end of a long driveway off Lofton Avenue;  something that’s been going on for a thousand years, by many accounts.   

KUBB players counted off one, two, three, four, five, six and started over, one, two...until they had six teams with about four players a piece. They took their places at the three KUBB (rhymes with tube) fields awaiting Wednesday night “Grasskickers” Club action.

Mark Peterson, who started this informal weekly event with about four couples, says he first heard about KUBB during  Karl Oskar Days 10 years ago.  

The Grasskickers are not part of a regular “league” as you might picture one, but the players focus and are competitive.  

It organized in 2015 and  Peterson says he’s had as many as 46 people gather on his lawn, but the usual is about 18.  Teams need at least two players but six players can easily stay busy.

You don’t have to have a last name that ends in s-o-n to get wrapped-up in perfecting KUBB skills, but it probably helps.
The action at Peterson’s showcased a spectrum of talent.  

There were the precision players who have perfected angled baton tossing and the ground bounce.  Most elusive was the domino technique-- a method for knocking down multiple blocks. 

But, others obviously came for the socially-distant socializing.  This is a game where idle chatter and razzing of players are expected.  As for the pandemic, players easily keep team members at arm’s length.  Sanitizing wipes to clean the tossing batons were handy.

KUBB is claimed by both Sweden and Norway, even France got credit on one yard game website. It has been traced back centuries.  Best guess is “KUBB”  probably comes from the Scandinavian word for wooden blocks, vedkubbar, which the playing pieces are made of.  Or, it could just be short for kubbspel, which means literally throwing block game.  

The Viking civilization gets credit on the Internet for having allegedly used the bones of their warfare victims as game pieces,  like the leg femur and skulls, but actual historic evidence is lacking.

On the skills spectrum, club host Peterson hangs with the take-it-seriously players.  Last year he won the KUBB U.S. Open.  He has played the annual nationals in a hotbed of KUBB, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  He likes to create T-shirts, and more recently provided black embroidered face masks for Grasskickers regulars, and many players have logo-ized can cozies,  all in the name of team spirit.

KUBB Clubs (say that three times fast) are especially active in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and with citizenry sprung from nordic stock that should be no surprise.  Peterson would love to see a big KUBB competition somewhere in the Chisago Lakes area,  maybe as a town celebration event?  If you want contact information e-mail at cpeditor@frontier.com and we’ll pass along the information.

KUBB is nuanced and strategic;  it has elements of chess, bocce ball, horseshoes and even billiards.  To play well bring your best eye hand coordination and have a knack for perception in 3D.

Peterson said he played in a tournament once against a group of physics teachers all on one team.  It was agonizing as they eyeballed the angles at the stage of the game where you group wood blocks from afar, pitching them with backspin or end over end, hopefully placing them to be tipped easily with a baton toss.

The players last week mostly knew each other from meeting up at their kids’ sports events as spectators and volunteering.  The club is supposed to be fun, and too overly competitive or aggressive people probably don’t get invited back, said Peterson.  

“As our kids aged and we didn’t have games and tournaments to get together at, we looked around and knew we had to find something,” Peterson explained.

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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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