By Dave Mable
Des Moines Kubb Member Mary Tapken
“drilling” kubbs in the 2011 Fall Kubb Klassic. Photo courtesy of Josh Feathers
What the helvete is Kubb? Nope. No idea. None.
This 1,000-year-old sport has some branding
issues. Not to worry, though, it’s catching
Kubb (pronounced “koob”) is a lawn sport that
is said to have been invented by Vikings and
is sometimes referred to as Viking Chess. Though
this ancient sport has a strong presence in
Norwegian countries, it enjoys a small but growing
following in the U.S. A dozen Kubb tournaments
are held each year throughout America with the
U.S. National Championship tournament in Eau
Claire, Wisc., each year. And there’s one coming
up at in Des Moines on Sept. 22.
Des Moines Kubb Club began in 2009 by Josh
Feathers and a friend who searched Wikipedia
one day for a “fun, interesting outdoor game.”
Kubb was at the top of the search, he said.
A homemade set was made and so began the fun.
It hasn’t stopped since.
“The game is growing here in the Midwest, but
it has some growing to do nationally,” said
Feathers. “Most of the active teams are from
neighboring states, but interest is growing
around the country.”
As the Des Moines Kubb Club began to grow,
the idea of a tournament came out of the desire
to increase awareness in the game and allow
the better players in Des Moines to be challenged
by other top teams in the region. The first
Annual Fall Kubb Klassic tournament began in
2010 and has grown to include teams from across
central Iowa and six other states.
The 2012 Fall Kubb Klassic will be held at
Tower Park in Des Moines on Saturday, Sept.
22 starting at 9 a.m. Registration begins at
8 a.m. and is $40 per team. Hoping to also raise
money for charity, an auction will be held during
the tournament, benefitting Child Life Council.
“We want beginners to come out and play,” said
Feathers. “It’s a really easy game to pick up.
You just throw wood. It’s like chess: The more
you play, the more strategy you learn and use.”
To make the game interesting for both beginners
and experienced players, the tournament is set
up to pair teams of similar ability in the same
“The teams that are traveling from different
states want to be challenged by other experienced
teams,” said Feathers. “Likewise, we don’t want
beginner teams to be crushed in their first
game and lose interest. By pairing like-ranked
teams, we keep it fun and challenging for everyone.
“It’s also a very social game,” continued Feathers.
“Teams are never paired up with the same team
twice, so they will meet all kinds of people.”
Des Moines is the only team in the Midwest
that pairs like-ranked teams, which makes it
popular with some of the better teams from neighboring
states. The extra challenge has been beneficial
for Des Moines teams as well, giving them the
best competition to play against. That extra
challenge has helped teams from Des Moines score
high at the national meet in Eau Clair. Two
years ago, a Des Moines team won the meet, and
last year area teams finished second and fifth.
No experience is needed to participate in the
Fall Kubb Klassic. Teams must be at least two
players strong, so grab a friend and head over
to Tower Park. Throw some wood. It’s more fun
and more challenging than you think.
Game rules and tournament information can be
found at http://www.desmoineskubb.com.