Monthly Archives: August 2013

Clash of Kubb Trip

To continue our ever growing addiction to Kubb, a bunch of us began finding other tournaments to attend immediately after nationals. The Clash of Kubb was nearby and before school and college but right after our camp season. Perfect! James Gilbertson from the original Rubik’s Kubbs, and myself, Ryan Feathers, both wanted to attend and Matt Hansen joined us for the next go at a title with the Rubik’s Kubbs name. Two others, Ben Schlueter and Stuart Deets, decided to go as the Kubbisms. Finally, my father and sister decided to give it a go in the Recreational Division as team Skubby-Doo.

Early in the morning we headed out and managed to get ourselves to the Greenville Lions Park. We set up our shade tent and got out chairs and signed in. All the pitches were set up and we went out to warm up and practice. The kubbs were nicely painted and the sets were all ready to go. The pitches and assignments were up and everything was ready to go.

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We were practicing early and things were going alright. Returning was different than what I was used to at camp and the sandy soil there. The ground was harder and the kubbs were not digging in very well, and so clusters were hard to come by. This would come to be a problem for us all day. We played a practice match against the Kubbisms and won, and we were all ready for the opening matches. We got put into the group of 4 and had to play against Kubb’d, King Kung, and the Ringersicles–all pretty good teams judging by what I could remember of their past tournament showings. It was looking like a tough morning.

Our first match wound up being against Kubb’d. Steve Feathers is a really nice guy, and I’m glad to share a last name with him, even if originally led to confusion at nationals. (Many of my friends call me Feathers, as everyone was doing that at nationals, he kept looking around until we figured it out.) The rest of his team was very kind, and it was a very enjoyable match. I’d also say we were pretty equally matched…they might have had a slight edge but all three games were very close. They took the first one, but we wound up fighting back in the second after quite some while to snatch a victory. The third game went back and forth but ultimately we wound up losing it. James was very on in the morning with his base shots, starting off 6/7 and doing pretty well all day. Our difficulty was consistency in clusters and the short range shots…we were probably only shooting like 2/3 on the close throws and that wasn’t enough. Still, they were some good games and a lot of fun…some of the main reasons we were there.

Clash of Kubb 2013-13

The next match we got to (had to?) play the Ringersicles. We had been peeking at their match during ours, and it was clear these guys were good. Crazy good. I for one have been watching quite a few videos of kubb matches to get ideas on returns and throwing techniques, and just to get a sense of how the top teams play. Mark Blazel is the thrower/returner I somewhat immitate in my style, and the group of us has almost set up some form of demi-god status to him. Every time we watch his videos it seems like his kubbs bounce wherever they need to, and in addition I don’t think I have every seen him miss a field kubb. After watching him from the sideline…I don’t think we were wrong. He’s amazing. It was fun watching him…and some fun playing him. All three of the Ringersicles were amazingly friendly and kind, a reoccurring theme in kubb fortunately. However, rather than rising our game to the next level to face off against the best, we all seemed to just throw worse. We played pretty badly missing lots of shots. The games were over rapidly and they dispatched us quickly. It felt like we were completely out of their league. It’s a real credit to them that they’ve practiced that much and have it down that well. The goal has been set now though–we have to get as good as they are if we want to do as well as we desire. It certainly doesn’t look easy, and perhaps I am a fool, but Mark Blazel is my new nemesis. I hope someday we can manage to defeat him. Today though would certainly not be that time.

Our final match of the morning was against King Kung. This was a third extremely kind team. They were very nice to talk to and get to know, and in addition they were fun to play. Everyone in our morning matches did a great job cheering for hits and jeering at whiffs. It was just some fun kubb at a pretty high level. Regrettably once again here though we just were slightly outclassed. They were throwing a bit better and clustering tighter. We played back and forth for quite a while and at times it looked like we had a shot, but we just couldn’t snatch the game away. We weren’t far off from competing with them though. Next time we meet we plan on being better set…but more so looking forward to some more great fun kubb.
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Overall in the morning then we went a measely 1 win to 6 losses and lost all three of our matches. We were hoping that this tournament we would do better than our consolation bracket finish at nationals but if anything it appeared we were going to do worse. We felt that we were playing better than we had there though with the extra month of learning and practice…so our hope was that we had just wound up in a very hard bracket against some of the best teams. Good for us, it turned out that was basically correct.

My father and sister were off playing and Ben and Stuart were also playing. I checked up on them throughout the day, but all were struggling. While many of them at least had some fun playing in their first tournament, none managed to win a single game much less a match for the entire day. My father did do a good job getting some photos of the day though, including some very cool shots of our team and other good pictures of the day. Many of his best pictures are in this report.

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The championship bracket was set up and we had to play in the opening round, having failed to secure a bye (going 0-3 in match play tends to do that). We were up against Rhymes with Tube. They were a fairly nice team of 4 individuals. We won the toss off and did a good job in the opening of the game to build up a bit of a lead. We were hitting a bit better than earlier and better than them, and manged to beat them in game one. Game two however began to slip out of our hands, particularly after we manged to leave and advantage line–something we did far too much all day. It became very clear to us that if anything we have got to learn to be able to return some kubbs in clusters and not miss those 4-5 meter throws. Overall though game 3 began and we slowly whittled our way into the 8 team championship and avoid the consolation bracket…for now.

Clash of Kubb 2013-6

Next up was Kalamakubb. They were two kind and fairly quiet gentlemen. Once agian we won the toss off and had a good first round and won the first game after some limited back and forth. We were hitting better than them, and their returns were a bit spaced out at times (similar to ours most of the day however…) and we felt that we likely could beat them and so play our way into the final four–a great goal and step forward for us!
However, like the last match we dropped game two as well, and had to go into the tiebreaking game three. We did eek it out and had assured ourselves of at least a 4th place finish, which for our 2nd tournament we were pretty happy about. Now it was time to see if we could advance any further…

But as fate would have it, that was not likely to happen in the next match. It was my new nemesis Mark Blazel. As we had determined earlier however, we were outclassed. Mark can return kubbs like magic. In fact I’m pretty sure a rule needs to be added to the rule book about not using the force, and we need to check Mark’s midi-chlorian levels before future tournaments. But in all seriousness it was wild. The Ringersicles were a great team, and a truly class act though. They said good hit after our hits and bemoaned our whiffs with us. Given how we seemed to play down again though I would’ve thought it was sarcastic almost if I hadn’t known better. We managed a remarkably poor 2/6 on three isolated field kubbs at like 4 meters and left them an easy and early advantage line which led swiftly to our death. Unsurprisingly they moved past us and wound up in the final where they also won fairly easily. The only good news is that I got to cross off “See Mark miss a field kubb” and “Watch Mark throw a punishment kubb” off of my Kubb bingo card. In addition Mark was kind enough to answer a couple of my questions about his return style and how he holds the kubb. Hopefully with a few more pointers practice sessions will continue to improve my performance there. Thanks Mark! (It appears I don’t take my whole nemesis thing very seriously)

This made us wind up in the third place game however where we got to rematch against King Kung. Overall our morning pool of four wound up having the 1st, 3rd, and 4th place teams on the day, with Kubb’d being another good team…so it really was we had just wound up in a really good bracket. The only obvious issue was that we weren’t quite good enough yet. Clash of Kubb 2013-4 Clash of Kubb 2013-3 Clash of Kubb 2013-8 Clash of Kubb 2013-16

These were again some extremely fun games against some extremely kind individuals. As the ground was drying during the day and the length of the day was wearing on me, my returns were turning into nothing though. I couldn’t really do anything with them anymore but put them on one side of the field and ensure that they weren’t more than halfway on their side….which basically means nothing. We couldn’t hit quite as well as we needed to, and after some very long games, King Kung beat us again 2 more times to knock us into 4th place officially….which regrettably also meant that we didn’t get any trophy or hardware either. (Although that is nothing some red paint, an extra block of wood, and a sharpie can’t fix myself). The only other cool thing about the match was that one round my returns were particularly terrible and we wound up with a kubb like 3 inches and 9 inches directly behind the king, and we did wind up removing both of them without knocking over the king. In addition a large crowd was watching because we were the last game going. I wish we had been playing better for all to see, but alas it was not to be so.

The awards for the tournaments were then given out and everyone worked on heading home. I’d like to thank Chad for a great tournament, and everyone for being so friendly and welcoming. I’m glad to have gotten to play some of the best players in kubb and competing against some great teams. With some more practice and the increased pointers some of us recieved, we know what we need to work on. Good returns simply are a must and is the area we were outclassed in most of the day. (I’m not too sure if any team other than the Ringersicles had significantly better shooting than us) but most had better returns. In addition we all need to work on our 4m accuracy so we don’t leave advantage lines anymore.

The next tournament for us is likely going to be the Oktoberfest one which we’re looking forward to. I plan on trying to get a club founded at UWSP, the college I attend, and seeing if I can’t get some consistent games going there and maybe a small tournament with a bunch of teams there in late fall. Wherever we head from here though hopefully we will keep improving. Next goals:

1. Top 3 at Oktoberfest
2. Defeat Mark Blazel
3. 1st place in a Tournament

Until then, thanks to everyone for another great tournament!

U.S. Nationals Trip

Last summer the Handicraft area at Camp Tesomas added Kubb as a game to play in their area during free time. I had only briefly heard of the game before and had not tried it much. Soon though I was off playing my first match of Kubb (albeit with very non-standard size pieces as we would later discover) and my addiction to the game was born. We found all sorts of times to run down to Handicraft that summer and play in our brief break periods, on the weekend, or even in the waning daylight when you could hardly see the kubbs you were to be throwing at.

At the end of that summer I went home and quickly made my own set, that I continued to play with through scouting events and at other places. I was firmly hooked on the simple game that still contained some strategy and was accessible to anyone. At the start of this summer season many of us camp staff were into the game again and decided that we should make a weekend trip and go to Eau Claire Wisconsin for the 2013 National US Kubb Championship. We registered two teams, the Kubb Root with Adam Gewiss, Kyle Huddleston, and Matt Hansen and my own team the Rubik’s Kubbs with myself, Bryan Konicek, and James Gilbertson.

 

After weeks of practice up on the hill, and finally learning the proper sizes of all the pieces (we had been playing with 1″ in diameter batons all last year when we discovered that batons were supposed to be 1 3/4″ in diameter), we were prepared to head off. The camp director kindly gave us all time off for Saturday morning and lent us a cooler and a water cooler for the trip. Saturday morning rolled around and alarms went off at 3:30 AM. As I lumbered into the showers I saw two of the individuals we would need for the trip–a good sign. We were all excited and ready to go play a lawn game halfway across the state with the best in the US. We found the rest of our team early that morning, loaded up our backpacks and coolers into Gewiss’s van, and boldly headed forth into the night. For those unaware, Adam’s van has some interesting features. First off you start with only three doors, and next the passenger door only opens from the inside, and the side door only opens from the outside. During the course of the trip I think we all finally got that down so that at every stop we could figure out the right combination to free all of ourselves for a stretch. This is the same van that has died on me before while riding in it (due to no oil and the engine beginning to seize up somewhere near Mosinee. When Adam went to remove the oil dipstick after we pulled over the plastic head was so hot it ripped off leaving the dipstick in) and this is the van that also would up stuck in my driveway’s ditch for a while. I wasn’t completely confident the van would make it there for us, but Adam assured us that we had a decent shot of making it.

 

Next we swung into Hanna Venture Base at 4:00 in the morning to steal some ice from the ice machine there to keep our coolers cold on the day. We quietly strode in with our coolers, filled them full of ice for the long day ahead, and reloaded the van and were well and truly on our way. After a little more than an hour we ran into two of our other teammates who were already down in Wausau and picked them up. We took a quick stop at McDonalds for some food and drinks, and broke out the granola bars we had. Then we continued on to Eau Claire.

After about another hour and half, somewhere around 7:00 we drove into Eau Claire and Adam led us to the soccer park where nationals were taking place. It was lightly raining at that point in the morning, but nothing too bad. As we pulled up, we were all in shock. Spreading into the distance was around 50 kubb pitches, all set up with the kubbs on the baseline, ready for a day of play. It was a surreal sight realizing that we were really here to play a lawn game all day. Kubb Pitches everywhere at US Nationals

Kubb Pitches everywhere at US Nationals

 

We headed over to the sign in booth, and got both of our teams signed in and found out the pitches where we would play at. Matt had luckily brought some chairs from his home, and even had a tent with him that we set up, that we could use to store stuff in throughout the day. Many other teams were better prepared with their shade tents and things, and we looked slightly out of place with our camping tent, but what do you expect out of a bunch of boy scouts? We got some good practice in that morning in the light rain and were excited for our first matches at 9:00.

The morning is broken into pools of 4 teams each,¬†and you play every team in the pool. This pool play determines your seeding for the championship bracket. We were in a pool with Throw Storm, Kubba Libre, and Pack of Snipers, a team that had tied for 5th place last year. Our first match was of course against them. All matches in this early pool play are best of 3 games. We lined up for our first game of the tournament and promptly embarrassed ourselves. After a few opening throws we wound up having to shoot at three close field kubbs, something that normally would be no issue. Generally I’d say we would hit down those three close kubbs well over 95% of the time. Not this time. We managed a puny one hit, and this good team now had a very good advantage line and used it to quickly dispatch us. Game over. The next game we redeemed ourselves somewhat, but their hitting and returning was just better. While we fought for many more rounds, they eventually defeated us. Lost two games and the match. A rough start to the morning, but they were a very good team. As of writing this, they made it to the top eight again like last year, and are trying to fight their way into the semifinals.

 

Next we had our match against Throw Storm. These games were intense! We were quite evenly matched against them. This team was also extremely nice. They were a husband and wife and one of their fathers as best as I could tell. Game one had quite a bit back and forth, but the old man was being extremely clutch. He always threw last, and I’m not sure he missed a kubb in game 1. He was consistently cleaning up every kubb he needed to, including the tough baseline to baseline shots. We eventually lost, and continued to remain winless on the day into game 2. This was another very close game. Our hitting had warmed up, I was returning well. We were each returning about 5-6 kubbs every round and knocking them all over, trying to find a way ahead. After what was probably a half an hour, we finally had managed to eek out the edge and use it for our first win of the day. It was a really satisfying win, and it in some way felt like an affirmation that we were supposed to be there. Now to see if we could win a match! Game 3 was extremely similar to game 2. Long back and forth with great play on both sides, but we were able to come out on top and win. We had gone 2-1 and won our first match.

 

It was around this point that both Bryan and I knew we needed to go get some sunscreen on. It had been rainy and overcast all morning, but the rain had abated during our early matches. Now with a thin cloud layer, it had fooled us into feeling fairly safe. Of course to those pale folks out there who know, a cloudy day like that is very deceiving. During our match with Throw Storm we knew that we needed some protection, but the match went so long. We both eventually got some sunscreen on and a brief break before our third match, but both of us got some sunburn. As of this morning, I have some decent redness in places and will be feeling it for a few days probably.

 

As is though, we also realized that if we beat Kubba Libre we would get 2nd in our pool, which would mean we would earn a bye in the first round of the championship! We knew what we had to do. Regrettably I don’t remember too much about the following games however our the team. I know that we managed to win both, and they were both over fairly quickly. I wish I could remember more on this one, but it was a long day with plenty of excitement to be had ahead.

 

Our other team we had sent in did a bit worse and got third in their pool. They would up playing in the first round of the tournament, and I observed their match for a bit. They were playing a team that had gotten 4th in their pool and was a bit worse than Kubb Root. Kubb Root got the win and went into the 2nd round of the championship bracket, which we had already earned ourselves into. The problem we both were going to have though is we would be facing some of the best teams in the country. Kubb Root was up against the Kubbsicles, the 2012 champions, and as of this year they made it to the top 8. (The top 8 teams return Sunday morning to play the finals, which are currently going on as I write this report). The Rubik’s Kubbs had to play the Lienkubbels, which had placed third in 2012, and also as of right now are a top 8 team this year.

 

We wound up playing them pretty hard though in the first game. They had left us an advantage line, but unfortunately our hitting was a bit off and we did not utilize it very well in knocking down many kubbs. They fought their way back, we eventually messed up and gave them an advantage line, and that was the end. They took us out in both of the games to win 2-0. However we weren’t that far out of it, and felt pretty well about how close we had played them. With a bit more practice it isn’t out of thought that we could beat them.

 

As is, the Kubb Roots also lost. All 32 teams that lose in the round we did wind up in the Consolation Bracket however. This is a best of one bracket though, so the games are extra important, as you don’t have the ability to mess up at all, as it could be the end.

 

I don’t really remember our first match at all. We won it fairly handily as I remember and the Kubb Roots also managed to get into the round of 16 teams. From there we had a fun match against family. I forget their team name, but the mother and father were playing and they had their kids with them too. One was really young and kept running around the pitch grabbing pieces and trying to play with them which was a bit humorous. It was an intense round but we had a slight edge for most of it and managed to win again! We were onto the round of 8. At this point we went to observe how Kubb Root was doing. They were playing a team called R2Kubb2. We were going to be playing the winner of that game. If Kubb Root won, then one of our two teams was guaranteed to get into the top 4 in the Consolation bracket, and the top 4 teams in the Consolation Bracket are given medals! We were close to walking away with some hardware, which was about as well as I thought we would realistically be able to do. The Kubb Roots however wound up losing, and that was the end of their day then. They had a fun time, but now it fell to the Rubik’s Kubbs to ensure that R2Kubb2 didn’t take both our teams out and deny us any hardware.

 

R2Kubb2 was at the point in the day of getting pretty far into their cooler of drinks however. They were a team of 4 players and some of them needed a smoke break, while others needed to get another beer or two down. They came over from their tent carrying the remaining beers of their case, and I think one of their members downed another two during the match. It was a pretty close game that probably went on for about half an hour. They were doing pretty well, but their hitting was decreasing, probably from the booze to be honest, although the wear of the day was getting on us a bit too. Luckily the other team returned a kubb out of bounds twice and that punishment kubb really slowed them down and gave us an advantage. We slowly whittled down their base kubbs and eventually won! We had secured at least 4th place and some form of medals for us! It was really exciting. However this also assured us at least two more games and it was already about 5:00 pm! The Kubb Roots packed up a bunch of our stuff, and we waited on the other game. It was Throw Storm versus some other Eau Claire team and they seemed to know each other fairly well. They were also extremely evenly versed. Their game lasted for 2 hours overall apparently, and finally was done around 6:30 or so. We now had to face off against the very kind Throw Storm team we had played earlier and gone 2-1 against.

Team Throw Storm returning Kubbs during their 2 hour game.

Team Throw Storm returning Kubbs during their 2 hour game.

 

Here however, Throw Storm seemed very worn from their marathon game and we were able to hit better than them. They wound up messing up too and gave us a nice advantage line to work from and we fairly quickly dispatched them. This meant we were in the finals of the consolation bracket, playing for 1st place! The Kubbaholics were the team waiting for us, and they had waited for about 3 and half hours! We were the only games left to go at this point, in fact almost everyone else had left. There weren’t any spectators left other than the Kubb Roots. They cheered us on, but our hitting and returning were a bit poor this match by our standards, and the other team was better on both than us. They wound up winning fairly handily, and we wound up with 2nd place.

 

Which was still fantastic! We were quite excited. We were each given a silver medal and our picture was taken, and will wind up on their website later. We managed to be the 2nd place in the Consolation bracket at our first ever Kubb tournament, at the US nationals. It was quite exciting, and a really good spot to finish. We went home with something to show, played 14 games of kubb, and went 8-6 on the day. We got to play some extremely good teams, but never felt all that out of it. With further practice, in future years Rubik’s Kubbs could be quite the force it would seem. We are excited about the future, and were proud of the showing we had at our first tournament. It was an extremely fun day, and I hope to make it to more tournaments yet this year and in the future with the guys from our teams.

 

 

2nd Place!

2nd Place!