It was scheduled, on my calendar like all my other important meetings and appointments: “Register Kubbchucks for 2013 US Nationals”. Done. Register your team
Between now and July, the Kubbchucks will also be at the Madison Midsommar Tournament, and I fully expect the lunchtime kubb in downtown Mpls to resume once the snow melts.
The Kubbchucks goal for 2013 is to land in a significantly better place in the bracket than we did the previous year.
Back in the 2012 Loppet Kubb tournament, the Kubbchucks first game out of the round robin was with Fox Valley Kubb’s Kubb Snipers. They schooled us in two very quick games going on to win the entire tournament. Our tournament journey ended just 3 games into the single elimination Consolation bracket.
This year, our round robin grouping was just as tough. We opened with Team Knockerheads and while we lost both games of the match, we held on. After Team Knockerheads, we were introduced to McLovin’ a mixed doubles team loaded with talent. He had a solid 8 meter and her inkasting combined with an amazing short game won them the match. An unexpected loss for us. Our final round robin match and our sole win was with the 3 Kubbateers.
While we were hoping for a 2:1 record coming out of the round robin, we ended up 1:2. To regroup and ponder our fate again in the Consolation bracket, we took a walk through Uptown for a cup of coffee. It was amazing to see half a street covered in 6 inches of groomed snow and skiers skating where hours later cars would return. Something in my French Roast told me we still had a chance a the Championship bracket. I couldn’t quite articulate it – something about other teams with our same record and needing to fill slots in the Championship bracket. It was just a glimmer of hope that we could eek into the Championship bracket just as we did in the 2012 Nationals and 2012 Dallas tournaments.
On our way back to the pitches, we grabbed a bite from the Chef Shack truck and were about to wash it down with a Surly Furious when Eric Goplin turns on the bullhorn and declares,
“Pitch 1: Kubbchucks vs The BFF.”
I abruptly finished my first swallow of beer, and looked at Jamie – already waving me to the pitches. My coffee cup was right – we have another chance – Winner of this game goes onto the Championship bracket, the loser enters the Consolation bracket.
The BFF is Jake Freeberg, Cole Vryens, and 4 others from the Minnesota Kubb crew. Fun players and great talent. The first game we went back and forth and eventually them on the ropes with 8 kubbs in play. With the match being best 2 out of 3, they decided to give us the win – prematurely slaying the king. Once I realized what happened, and why, I smiled. They felt more confident in being able to win the next two games, but I knew the Kubbchucks only needed one more win and their forfeit showed us we could take them. The second game played out much like the first, two evenly matched teams tossing kubbs. The game ran long, Eric had called time during The BFF’s turn. They inkast 7 with 2 of our baselines remaining and only one of theirs. They took their 6 throws and handed us the victory.
That’s when the bomb was dropped.
First game of the Championship bracket on Pitch 1: Kubbchucks vs Kubb Snipers.
I was stunned. My jaw dropped. Our time in the Championship bracket would be brief – best we could do was to make it interesting.
I knew that our only chance against the Kubb Snipers was to not leave them an advantage line. If we did – they’d immediately convert it into a win. The first game, we held our own – each turn both teams would clean up the field and maybe pick up an additional base. Back and forth, back and forth. At one point I was inkasting 6 kubbs with 2 baseline kubbs remaining on both sides. I knew that our chances of cleaning up the field dramatically decreased once we got over 5 kubbs. After inkasting the 5 kubb into the left corner, I looked at the remaining kubb and I consulted Jim and Jamie on it’s placement. They shrugged. I looked at the pitch, I looked at the 5 kubbs in the corner, and dropped the kubb right in front of the middle baseline kubb.
Jim and Jamie readily cleaned up the 5 kubbs in the corner leaving the that lone sixth kubb for me and two batons. I took a deep breath, focused on the sixth kubb and threw – striking the sixth kubb and knocking it into the baseline behind it. With my final baton I took out the remaining baseline. This pulled us ahead, made it our game to lose, and a few short turns later we did. It was a nice clean game, with neither team leaving a single advantage line.
Going into the second game, I felt that if we played just as well again – we just might be able to take a win from them. Maybe not the match – but a single game. And we did – the second game was just as intense and well played on both sides as the first. Then it was the Kubbchucks turn, inkasting 9, with a lone baseline remaining on our side. If we could successfully get past this turn – we could win. Three by three, I inkast the kubbs – putting them in the left corner. A straggler here and there, nothing drastic. But I knew with each additional kubb in the basket were were tempting fate. But where should they go? There’s no remaining base kubbs to use as an anchor. Plus, the Kubb Snipers are accurate – from everywhere on the pitch. For them it matters less where the advantage line is than that there’s an advantage line. With 9 in the field, Jim and Jamie took care of 3 each. Unfortunately, some unlucky bounces left me 3 kubbs on either side of the wood pile from one another. There was no way I could get all 3. And I didn’t. I left an advantage line for the Kubb Snipers at mid-field. They immediately converted that into a win.
Our time in the Championship bracket of the 2013 Loppet Kubb tournament may have been brief but these 2 games with the Kubb Snipers was the strongest the Kubbchucks have ever played. These two games were why we needed to get to the Championship bracket. They completely made our Loppet experience.
In 2012, the Kubbchucks eeked into championship bracket after championship bracket with their unique game strategy: exhaust the other team.
Over the winter, the ‘chucks continued to hone this strategy and refine their overall game play. In addition, they’ve trained in some of most kubb-adverse conditions: 8″ of snow, glare ice, -10°F, and the low oxygen environment of the Rocky Mountains.
Are they ready for the 2013 tournaments?
Are the 2013 tournaments ready for them?
Um, how about at least these four?
The Kubbchucks had to go to the 2012 Dallas Oktoberfest Kubb Tournament. Why? Well, several reasons.
- Garrick, our team captain, had been in that area as a kid growing up in Wisconsin and had driven through Dallas once prior to this.
- Dallas adopted a 6-person team format. This was the first tournament to require 6-person teams in the United States.
- The Kubb Tournament is part of the Dallas Oktoberfest celebration, and those are always awesome.
Team of 6?
From the Kubbchucks we only had Garrick and myself. Garrick’s son Cooper joined us for the day so we had three players. We also recruited Jake Freeberg, a Minnesota Kubb engine and longtime Kubb player to join our team. To fill out the rest of the lineup we had three baton throwers from Des Moines Kubb join our flank; Jeremy Harpold, Heather Woltz-Benz and Mike Farrell. They played great and we all melded really well.
So, I got up at 5:00am on Saturday morning to head out of town and play 6-person Kubb in Dallas, Wisconsin — population 356.
We arrived right on time for registration at 8:30am. We got situated and surveyed the pitch. For a tournament with so many people it sure seemed like very few pitches were set up. You don’t need so many pitches when everyone has 6 players! There were 14 teams registered but two dropped out at the last minute leaving 12 teams and over 72 players (some teams had seven players, just in case). This also gave Eric Anderson, the tournament organizer, a bit of a last minute challenge to redo the tournament format around 2 fewer teams. The round robin was modified to go five best-of-three matches, the first three in your group of three teams, the last 2 in the next grouping.
Round 1: Big Red Machine
The day started cold and the play on the pitch was pretty cold for the Kubbchucks in the first round. We went in agains Big Red Machine from Fox Valley Kubb. This team as the Kubb Snipers right in the center with other Fox Valley Kubbers filling out the team of 6 roster. The match went poorly for us. We lost 0-2 and the match was over in about 25 minutes.
We successfully shrugged off the lost and went into round 2.
Round 2: Cynthia Plaster Inkastare
Round two we went up against our fellow Minneapolis Kubbers. This team was built around John Kubbar Mellencamp and I know those guys can throw some solid Kubb but there batons were pretty cool. We played strong and won the match.
Round 3: Hometown Kubbers
We got to play the one and only local Dallas team in Round 3. We took the first game pretty solidly, it was a lot of fun. The Hometown Kubbers were a fun team to play with. In the second game we got cold, they got hot, and we lost the game and gave the Hometown Kubbers there only win of the day. We closed out the match in the third game to take the win.
Round 4: Steve Feathers and the Shufflers
In Round 4 our games got long. Really long. We were excited to come 2-1 into Round 4 and take on our friends from Des Moines Kubb led by Steve Feathers. I think Feathers and the Shufflers may have had the most fun of any team at the tournament. We played for 75 minutes with the Shufflers and never completed even one game. We ended the match, called by time limit, 0-0 and we won with 2 kubbs on the baseline to their 1 kubb.
Round 5: Team Kubboom
We went into the final round of the round robin against the famed Team Kubboom. Team Kubboom also had two kids on their team so that matched off well with Cooper on our side. I can’t remember if we won the first or second game, but we traded the first to games 1-1. The 3rd and final game went on and on and we again got called on time with the Kubbchucks winning on baseline kubbs.
Round 4 and 5’s long games came around to haunt us in the end.
With the round robin behind us it was time to figure out the seeding into the bracket. The Shufflers had already being written into the #1 seed in our group until we came over and reported our 4-1 record for the round robin. Turned out that Big Red Machine, Feathers and the Shufflers and the Kubbchucks all finished 4-1. We beat Feathers, and Big Red Machine was beat by Feathers so Kubbchucks were put in the #1 spot and we were beside ourselves on a #1 seed!
Then, we realized the Big Red Machine beat us. So, we had the triangle of three teams with the same record all having beat each other. So, then we count the number of individual games won and Red Machine had 9, Feathers 7 and we had 5. From #1 to #3 seed. Boom.
Quarterfinals: Six Pack
Off to the quarterfinals we went. We were happy to be playing and we had to line up against Six Pack, a super team of The Beers from Des Moines Kubb and the Wolfpack. These guys have fire power. Our best tactic was our Des Moines teammate, Mike. He was great at talking trash at Chris Hodges. Alas, it didn’t work at all. Hodges laser focus blasted everything in its site. The Kubbchucks were never really in it. We took our lumps and exited the bracket after a 0-2 match.
We had a great time in Dallas! We will definitely be back next year!
Qualifying for the National Kubb Tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is still a simple affair of having two friends, fifty American dollars and the good sense to register. This is not intended to cast doubt on the strength of the competition at Nationals, nor to suggest that the Kubbchucks have been lazy in the months since they played their first competiton in the fabulous Minneapolis Loppett. If anything it is a sweet commentary on the sport of Kubb which simultaneously is growing in sophistication and retaining the best aspects of a fun lawn game where everyone is encouraged to play.
Kubbchucks had encouraged so many people to play that the team played as two teams of three. We may have been the only team to clone itself, a good measure of the Kubb fever that had swept our group. Along the way websites were created, scoring systems developed, T-shirts designed, actual practice occurred on a few occasions and perhaps most significantly one of our own grew a mustache specifically for the tournament. It seemed that Kubb was on everyone’s lips this Summer.
Alas, I can only provide gratuitous detail on one half of the Kubbchucks performance because I only witnessed half the matches. What I will say about the team I was not on is that they seemed to enjoy themselves despite some short games where they played cheaters. Plus, they looked fantastic, again the mustache played a key role here. I do recall one moment when one of the players tried to rip the shirt he was wearing in half and discovered the official Kubbchuck shirts do not tear easily. I tip my hat here in admiration of the gesture and the recovery both of which seem very much in line with the spirit of a lawn game tournament.
The tournament my half of the Kubbchucks experienced was the kind of harrowing roller coaster ride one would expect from this game of momentum. Our round robin included the accomplished team of Tad Kubbler and so we knew there would be rough sailing. So when we arrived we were quick to pull aside a team called Blue Footed Kubbies who we thought would be a good first match. They had the trappings of youth: tight 70’s shorts, significant moustaches and tight graphic t-shirts. We thought wisdom an effective weapon here with at least one of our number having distinct memories of the 70’s. No one who had been there would dress that way.
Still they were friendly and confident and off we started our match before it became apparent that they did not know the rules. I would never make a fuss about this since less than half a year previous we did not know the rules and the first team had to gently tell us how it worked. We did the same for these fellas and though they acceded to our “version” of the rules there was a tense moment or two. You could immedately see the impact of this being “nationals” where even a friendly isn’t so friendly.
In any case we won. We took the first two games. Our play was not great but good enough. They were not consistent and learning the rules. It was clear they would get better as the day went on.
We then picked up the Sweedish Ice Kubbs which consisted of a lovely coulpe and their thirteen year old son. We figured this one would be a lay up because, well really: a family? They were cute and friendly but we figured we had experience and intensity on our side. So we eagerly started the match.
And then we went cold. Ice Cold. Sweedish Ice Cold. We missed six eight meters in a row. Then twelve. Then eighteen. And so on. The SIK managed to get a few of ours down and so we’d clear the field Kubbs and then miss the base line. Over and over and over again. We were giving each other pep talks, one of our own was starting to mutter about how fun this was but it was anything but fun. Each turn brought us closer to a messy loss as the Swedish Ice Kubbs got their rhythm and suddenly there were three and then four field Kubbs going back and forth and always we miss the baseline. I could not even guess how many we missed before I managed to knock one down at which point I fell to the ground and declared, “I am so happy!”
But I wasn’t happy and by this time the SIK had gotten under our skin. The intensity of the thirteen-year-old was more than I would be able to muster for the rest of the day. The play between the couple, the encouragement, “go Mom!” and their desire was more than we could bear. They beat us in the first game. We tried to regroup but it was gone and they beat us in the second game as well. The record book shows that we won one game of the three, I can’t recall this at all–perhaps I’ve blocked it out because of the brutal circumstances of the loss.
Throughly shaken, we were then to face the formidable Tad Kubbler–a team we know pretty well and is more talented than us. Prior to the tournament we’d said, “any game magic could happen.” After the Sweedish Ice Kubb drubbing Tad Kubbler looked impossible. The match gave no evidence to the contrary: they took two games in about five minutes in what was an exhibition in Kubb awesomness.
We finished the round robin 1-2 with bruised egos and a sense of dread about the afternoon. Was this what we came to Nationals for? To be schooled by Tad Kubbler? To melt down in front of a nice family from Eau Claire? These questions cast a shadow over the afternoon play.
I had a beer and several handfuls of pretzels. Not just pretzels but those awesome peanut butter filled pretzels that you get at Trader Joes. I think the beer was home brew that Garrick made, though it could have been something by the 21st amendment brewery. In any case, the beer marked a break between the brutality of the morning round robin and the afternoon bracket. It was a clean break, a refreshing partition that took the drubbings of the past and left them there.
We cam to the next game against three delightful but shirtless engineers. I believe they were engineers by trade, or perhaps they were going to school to become engineers. Not train engineers but some sort of practical build-some-stuff engineers. Let’s call them mechanical engineers. I don’t believe they were software engineers–those generally do not take off their shirts. These guys could sell it–sunglasses, youth, perfect smiles and a friendly Kubb attitutide.
For the record, I’m not sure if their team name was “the Engineers” or if that is just what we called them. Again, the beer may have begun to be a player here.
But the player that showed up was my partners Jamie and Garrick. The cold streak of the morning was long gone as we hit what we aimed for at all the distances. Garrick was a mad man of building field Kubb cities. We played well and it was fun. The Engineers played well too, so the game went on for a long time. We took the first match, they took the second and then in the third match it was a battle to a triumphant Kubbchuck finish.
What do you know, but this match turned out to be our way to pay into the winners bracket! So on we go to serious Kubb time, though with a short stop at the cooler for a few beers. Up next was a team called “The Good The Bad and The Ugly.”
I don’t remember being albe to tell which one was which. I do remember that they were not wearing shirts which struck me as kind of crazy. Two teams in a row that weren’t wearing shirts? It seemed unlikely and possibly like the tournament organizers had put us in the college-athletes or awesomely-gay brackets. But I guess if we had to play shirts and skins we were glad to be the skins.
In any case we were playing, they were good guys and the match started with everyone in a good mood. We played very strong but fell behind in the first match. Yet we battled back and came close to closing it out, only to lose in what was a very long game. In the second game we came back and if memory serves we closed that one out fairly quickly.
The last game was a monster. Back and forth and back and forth. Two evenly matched teams with tons of field Kubbs passing from one side to the other. A small crowd gathered and there was cheering for both sides. It seemed like the sun was setting and honestly it was getting mentally and physically exhausting. Dinner reservations needed to be adjusted because this game was going on so long.
Finally we lost and the Good the Bad and the Ugly went on to the next round. They ended up playing the Kubbsicles who ended up winning the whole tournament. It should be noted that the Kubbsicles are muscular young guys who wear shirts, but they are muscle shirts.
The Kubbchucks had a good showing for their first US Nationals. The tournament was well run, the players universally fun to hang out with. It was the best of sport and the best of lawn games and after we all had a week or two to rest it seems likely that next year we’ll be back. Possibly this time without our shirts….
Garrick signed us up for the Twin Cities Winter Kubb Tournament before we even knew what Kubb was. The invite to throw wood around in the snow was quickly accepted and the seeds of Kubb Fever were set.
We drew a round robin group with Kubb Snipers, Sporting Wood and 2 Pump Chumps. The matches in the round-robin were all best of three.
Our first round was against 2 Pump Chumps and I don’t remember what their actual team name was. The two guys were super cool and were very accommodating to our naiveté in regards to specifics of tournament play. You see, we had played the Mortal Kubb variation of the rules without even really knowing it. We also didn’t know about the advantage line, or at least I didn’t. We lost against them, if I remember 1-2.
Sporting Wood was our next team and they were not a tournament team. They had 6 players and were focused on having a good time, and we all did just that. We took them 2-0.
The third team in our round robin was the Kubb Snipers from Fox Valley Kubb. Chad and Chad are exceptional Kubb players and we went down quickly 0-2. With that said, it was a tremendous round because we really saw Kubb strategy being played out. These guys could drill, they were crazy accurate from the baseline and took care of the Kubbchucks quickly and easily, although I think we made it at least moderately difficult.
We left the round robing 1-2. I felt pretty good about the result though since Kubb Snipers and 2 Pump Chumps finished the tournament 1st and 2nd. We played the best in the tournament, and lost. But, that also shoved it straight into the consolation bracket.
The consolation bracket was single game, not best of three. I’ve come to realize that this is a pretty tough route due to a potential bias for the team that wins the first throw.
The first round we opposed Settlers of Baton. It was a good game but we were consistently ahead through the entire match. We saw some interesting strategy from Settlers as they got behind on field kubbs, but we ultimately prevailed. The Settlers also got a punishment kubb against them in this match which was our first exposure to that.
We then took on the Kingdom Kubbers. Another good game but we stayed ahead the whole time. At this point we started feeling pretty good about our game with visions of winning the consolation bracket.
We then went to the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket and faced off against Zorbaz ON the Lake from Park Rapids, MN. We watched them play their round to get the quarterfinals and we were honestly hoping we were going to play the team they beat. Zorbaz team looked strong and they were. We tried to hold them but quickly dropped behind in Kubbs. The missed a shot at the king which kept us alive a little longer, but we ultimately lost. Zorbaz finished 2nd in the consolation bracket losing to NW MN Kubb.
The tournament was a great time. The location was great, Surly on tap was awesome and Eric Goplin did an amazing job organizing it all. It was a super time and we all enjoyed it so much that it solidified the Kubbchucks as a long running Kubb team that will be making many more tournament appearances.