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Springfest 2015

This year my goal was to get to several more kubb tournaments. In 2013 we attended just a couple of tournaments after recently discovering kubb. In 2014 our teams attended several more tournaments, but many I still was unable to attend due to other conflicts or for lack of finding teammates. This year my goal was to begin attending more. So, after noticing that there was a tournament running in late April, near Eau Claire where my sister attends school, set during a festival for Lienkugel’s…there was really no choice.

As I talked with my sister she said she was going to get some of her friends together and they put together Team Skubby Doo. I put got together some of our better players and registered Team Rubik’s Kubbs for the tournament. I was playing with Adam Gewiss and James Gilbertson. My sister formed a team with some friends from Eau Claire, as well as with a friend I brought from Stevens Point. They were more focused on having fun, while our team was comprised of more veteran players trying a bit harder to be competitive.

Overall this tournament was a blast. The weather turned out great for the day. Initial reports seemed to suggest a kind of cold and overcast day, but instead it was mid 50’s and very sunny. Indeed perhaps too sunny–most member of our team did not think much about the sun due to the overcast morning, and there were some impressive sunburn/tan lines going on later in the evening. Additionally, this tournament was a great blast for most of us as they gave 2 free drink tickets to every player that registered, so that was a very nice touch.

The morning of the tournament began with group play. Rubik’s was put into a group of three total teams, so we had two matches early in the morning. We played fairly well, and managed to place 2nd in our pool to ensure our advance into the top 16 championship bracket beginning in the afternoon. Team Skubby Doo had a fun morning, although had a very difficult match in the morning by facing off against Eric Anderson and his team. After that though they managed to steal a game in their next match, and then in their final match they managed to win, and had a great time with that.

 

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Team Skubby Doo raising kubbs

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Team Skubby Doo deciding who to have throw

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Kendra Feathers getting a double off an advantage line

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Team Skubby Doo with the fallen king from their victorious match

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Team Skubby Doo

 

Unfortunately Skubby Doo’s efforts were not enough to place them 2nd in their bracket, and so they fell into the consolation bracket. They then had to wait awhile for their next game as the losers from the first round of the championship bracket were to join them in the consolation bracket’s games. Their afternoon went by alright. They won their first game to advance in the consolation bracket, but with some unfortunate luck were removed in the next. One of their members apparently knocked over the king while attempting the return a kubb, and so ended their chances. They had already knocked over all their oppositions base kubbs and still had all of their remaining, so it was a tough loss to stomach as they likely would have otherwise won. Still, they had a great day.

As for Team Rubik’s Kubbs we wound up in perhaps the longest match of the day against Bro-Los: Pablo, D-Lo, and J-Lo. We were very evenly matched. Our first game took almost an hour to play, but unfortunately¬† we lost. The second game was shockingly fast. Somehow we knocked over one 8 meter shot, and they returned it. They then managed to miss on their next six throws, leaving us an advantage line with no kubbs to return. We then promptly hit on all our next shots and took the second game in just minutes. Finally it got down to the third game. Despite great play on both sides, it ultimately came to us returning 10 kubbs and we failed to knock them all down. Our opponents utilized the ensuing advantage line and knocked us out of the Championship bracket into the consolation.

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Adam and James determining how to raise kubbs

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Team Bro-Los throwing with their advantage line

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James throwing

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Team Bro-Lo’s ending our championship run

 

We then moved into the consolation bracket where the games were best of one. We managed to win our next game against The Rooney Rockets, and then a team that has escaped my memory. One of the other awesome things about this tournament was how many local teams had come out to play. It seemed like most teams were fairly local, and we ran into almost entirely local teams through the entire consolation bracket. The wind at this point in the day had been messing with shots for awhile and we began to take the choice of what side to play on for most of the day rather than choosing who should through first which added a nice wrinkle to a decision that normally doesn’t take much thought or discussion. Additionally, one other interesting rule for this tournament was that of the Sure Shot–a shot taken between the legs and backwards at the king. While this was only required in top 8 games, we decided it would be more fun to take these shots in the consolation games as well. Adam Gewiss proved to be shockingly adept at these shots and never missed sure shot during our consolation run.

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Playing against the Rooney Rockets

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Adam practicing his Sure Shot

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James making a nice double

After those first two wins we wound up in the consolation finals which was a three team mini-tournament. We watched as Zwicky-Z’s defeated Mower Power–the team that defeated Team Skubby Doo’s to end their day! We knew what we had to do–defeat Zwicky-Z’s to take the championship and then avenge our friends by taking down team Mower Power! Both games went comfortably our way with us throwing off strong. The other teams both played pretty well but the length of the day seemed to be causing some uncharacteristic misses which only led to some early advantage lines for our team and some pretty quick finishes.

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Team Zwicky-Z having a good early round, knocking over the field kubbs and one of our base kubbs

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The throw off against Team Mower Power

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Gewiss throwing with an advantage line against Team Mower Power

 

Therefore we ended the day as the champions of the Consolation bracket! While it wasn’t precisely the place that we wanted heading into the day, it was nonetheless a happy finish that we were proud of. Plus our teammate always says “I accept nothing less than first place”, so for once we managed to get first for him. The tournament organizer was very kind and managed to find some prizes for the consolation bracket winners–several more drink tickets along with springfest T-Shirts. Overall it was a great day and a great event. Absolutely a tournament that we would reccomend and assuredly will be returning to in future years. One of the most fun days and events I’ve had thus far in kubb. Thanks to the tournament organizers along with Lienkugel’s and the Springfest organizers for such a great day and event. See you all in 2016 for the 2nd year of this fantastic kubb outing!

 

 

U.S. Nationals 2014

Last year, we attended our first kubb tournament ever. The 2013 US National Kubb Championship. It was a blast, and can be read about here. The story of our first trip even wound up in the 2014 edition of Kubbnation Magazine. We placed 2nd in the Consolation bracket and had a great time. Ever since being awarded those 2nd place medals, it was a certainty that we would be back for the next year.

Or so I thought. This year we began to plan the return trip. James Gilbertson was in, as he has been for every kubb tournament I’ve gone to. He’s been on the most consistent players out of the group of us, and he’s always been helpful to have along. This year Brian Konicek, who was on the team last year couldn’t attend. And so James and I (Ryan Feathers), began the search for a third. One of our close friends (and another past camp staffer of Tesomas Boy Scout Camp, the nexus for how we all know each other) was willing to and excited to come. So Craig Beer was on the team and we were set for nationals.

Or so I thought. On Thursday evening Craig Beer informs us that unexpected circumstances have arisen and that he would have a difficult time making it to the tournament. This is bad news. Playing down a man at nationals really wasn’t an option, and James and I expected to do pretty good so we needed a partner who at least had played some kubb and had a bit of practice. We immediately called up the other camp staff individuals who are still working there this summer to see if they had an extra player. They had registered as the Rubik’s Kubbs for this year, and I was actually playing on team Kubbers Get Pitches at James and Craig’s demands. Unfortunately team Rubik’s Kubbs had only three players able to make it, and were unable to get anyone else to come with. At that point I began to panic a bit. I knew very few other individuals who had played kubb in the past and whom we could utilize. A last minute call to Brain Konicek confirmed that he would be unable to make it this year to reform the team. Adam Gewiss who had played at nationals last year had other commitments by then. And so as I have learned to do all my life when I’m in a bind–I called up my parents on Friday morning.

They only had loose plans and my father said he could play if we needed him. I spent the rest of the afternoon talking with Craig and anyone else I could think of to try and get an alternate so he wouldn’t have to cancel his plans, but none arose. So around 7:00pm the night before nationals our new team was finalized. Tim Feathers would be the other member of our team. Some last minute practice took place and we were as ready as any team could be that had formed the night before a national tournament.

We woke up early the morning of the tournament and go prepared to go. And by “we” I really mean my father woke up early. As is usual for him when he has something on his mind, he was up around 3:30 getting prepared and packing things up for the day. By his standards I slept in until 5:00. We loaded up the cooler and the shade tent, along with some lawn chairs and set off for the pitches at 6. We got to the Eau Claire soccer park at 8 and got set up and signed in. My father brought a US and Wisconsin flag with him to attach to our shade tent, and we had a nice spot overlooking the entire park. It was a really good set up for the day, and as it turned out we were right near the pitches we were to play on for the morning and afternoon.
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We all spent a bit of time warming up on the numerous pitches. While I had experienced nationals before, part of kubb tournaments always surprises me. There is always such a varied crowd of players and spectators ranging from numerous states, backgrounds, and ages. The competitive spirit is present in all, and yet the sport retains an ethos that mirrors curling. Everyone is friendly and helpful, players will freely hand out advice and explains rules. Disputes are settled calmly, quietly, and quickly without the need for referees usually. Players shake hands and congratulate the other teams. Friendships are formed. While there are competitive rivalries, I cannot imagine anyone in kubb truly hates another team such that we see in national sports like football or basketball. The game has a wonderful spirit that pulls together and incredible group of individuals, and I was proud to be a part of that once again.

After that moment of existential sappiness, our first match was ready to begin and it was time to get into the game. Kubbers Get Pitches was in a bracket without any top 16 teams from the last year, and so I figured most of our games should at least be winnable for us. Whether or not they would be easy…well we were to find that out. Our first match was against the Kubba Divers from Eau Claire. The team was comprised of three college aged individuals, similar to James and I. They were pretty good and played us tough. If I remember correctly, they took game one from us. We were not hitting that well, particularly on the base kubb shots early on, and so the Kubba Divers were able to overwhelm us in a close game. During the next two games we were able to outplay them however. We warmed up our hitting, particularly my father was getting good at hitting the field kubbs, and James was warming up on the base kubb shots. My returning was starting to get into a rhythm and this was one of those games I think we largely took because we could return just enough better to emerge victorious. Our strategy for the day was to have my father throw the first two batons and knock out as many field kubbs as possible for us. I would then try to pick off the remaining field kubbs and let James take the last throws at the base kubbs as he was the best at hitting the long ones. I returned on the day and was able to make pretty good clusters for us. We escaped from our game one loss and got our first match win right away in the morning.

Our next match was against Tony’s Two Mrs. from Des Moines, Iowa. They were a friendly bunch and another tough match for us. Tony had really good returns–undoubtedly better than ours, and frankly was a better returner than I. Fortunately for us, our hitting was better. They were unable to consistently hit down kubbs at some times. While they would not leave us an advantage line for most of the match, they did not get many base kubb shots. For awhile the two of our teams traded back and forth 6-7 kubbs for a few rounds, until finally they broke down and left us an advantage line that we for once fully utilized to quickly win thereafter. This game took a very long time as we were both evenly matched, and the other team played at a bit of a slow pace. We wound up pressed for time in game 2. Our team was up one base kubb and so would win the tiebreaker. We had to play through one more turn each. Our team was unable to knock over any more base kubbs and so we had to watch three batons get thrown at our base kubbs, hoping they would all miss for us to win. One, two, and three misses later and we got credit for the “win” and won the match. I think had the game continued we would have actually been able to out shoot our way to the full win. While I don’t know the proper solution, I do think Tony’s Two Mrs. as a team needed to play a bit faster. Of the time, I’m pretty sure we utilized only a third of the total time of the match during our turns. In our bracket, not a single match with Tony’s Two Mrs. ended with a full two games being completed, much less three. While not feasible for kubb, curling once again came to mind. At the Olympics each curling team is allotted half the total time for their turns, and if they utilize all their time, they forfeit the match. Chess does the same thing with Chess clocks. While I don’t feel kubb needs to get that pendantic, I do think it is somewhat unfair for one team to be playing at a pace that winds up seeing none of their matches actually completing and all getting called on time. Oh well, it was a fun and challenging match, and they were nice people, and in the end we netted the win anyhow.

For our final match of the morning we were up against the Kubbatrubbas from West Saint Paul MN. They had also gone 2-0 in their matches up to that point, and so this game was for the top seed in our bracket and the bye that accompanies winning your pool. This team was another fun and challenging opponent. I don’t remember if it was game one or two, but they did snatch one of them from us. We arrived at game three once again on the day. Our opponents were playing well. Our returns were possibly a bit better than theirs, but it was quite close. Both teams hitting was nearly equal as well. However, I think there was one crucial difference. No one on our team is proficient at throwing heavy. We just have not practiced it and cannot do it with any accuracy. So we instead all just focus on hitting each kubb one at a time, and if a double or triple happens it is more of a happy accident than planned outcome. The Kubbatrubbas however often tried for doubles and triples by throwing heavy–and more often than not wound up whiffing all of the kubbs. This led to them leaving us an advantage line and from there we overtook the game and match. It’s a classic issue we’ve experienced before as well and have learned to keep ourselves in check and not try to throw extra heavy as we know we will just miss. If they had just focused on hitting each kubb normally, I think they might have taken the game and match from us.

With that win in hand, we had won our bracket! Given our teams’ inauspicious creation, we were extremely satisfied with that result. We had only lost two games and won 5 (and the sixth due to time). Plus all of those had come against quality opponents and teams that were basically our equals. It was a really fun and evenly matched pool, and we were glad to have emerged as the 1st place team in it.
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At that point we were able to catch up with our friends, the Rubik’s Kubbs. They had not fared as well but had managed to sneak 2nd place in their pool due to tiebreakers, despite going only 1-2 in match play. They had managed to get their first round bye as well and were in the round of 64 with us. They played their game earlier than us, as we were waiting for a marathon match between Skubby Dudes and Kubbacabra to finish to determine our foe. The Rubik’s Kubbs put up a good fight and played hard, but wound up losing 1-2 in a match they likely should have won. Still, upon further reflection it was perhaps prefferable for them to lose–as in losing they wound up in the consolation bracket. Had they won, they would have had to immediately play King Pin (an elite team who was the reigning 2nd place team, and wound up placing third in 2014). Even if they had played at the best of their game, the Rubik’s Kubbs themselves could admit they would not have won that match. Instead they wound up in the consolation bracket with the chance to play more games than they otherwise would have managed. After checking in a bit later, they won their first game in the Consolation bracket to advance to the round of 16, but then lost another game they claim they should have won. Such is the game of kubb though, where half the battle is simply consistency. Still, a tied for 9th in the consolation bracket wasn’t a bad showing for them, and they had a blast.

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During our long break, a few individuals came up to me to mention this blog. I’d like to thank anyone who actually takes the time to read our kubb adventures. I was glad to hear people thank me and complement me for this blog. Thanks for reading, and as always if you enjoy it, leave a comment. I love hearing other’s thoughts on my ramblings. As was though, it was time for our match however. The Skubby Dudes had managed to dispatch the Kubbacabras after a long match. After about a two hour break from our previous match, it was time for us to get back into game shape–which we promptly did. The Skubby Dudes were a real nice group of gentlemen, but there was a skill difference in this match. Our returns were consistently tighter, and our hitting was more consistent throughout the match. We won the first two games and match in fairly short order to advance into the round of 32 in the championship bracket. This was uncharted territory for James and I, as last year we had been knocked into the Consolation bracket by the Lienenkubbels.

Our opponent for the round of 32 was King Me, a team from Eau Claire Wi. Thsee three guys were pretty good, and played us hard. At the same time, the length of the day was starting to wear on all of us. At times we were missing field kubb shots that we had no business missing. My returning got a bit sloppy at points, and we had to knock over a punishment kubb once or twice during the match. Game one we were doing well in, and then disaster struck. King Me had left us an advantage line after returning six kubbs and had left a close one standing. I returned five in a jumble. There were no clear doubles, and so I did what I always tell myself not to, and what I had chided the Kubbstrubbas for doing earlier in the day–I tried to throw really heavy…and promptly whiffed shots on kubbs that were not more than 1m away. I only got one down with my two batons, and with our othe four batons, one of us whiffed a super close shot as well and we left an advantage line for our opponents! It was incredibly terrible. King Me quickly too advantage and dispatched us in game one. During game two we fought our way forward and were able to win. Still our hitting had cooled down from our earlier performances and we were scraping by in the match we would have taken much more easily in the morning. During game three we played poorly again, and had a terrible round. I returned four kubbs poorly, where there were no good double hopes, and we each proceeded to hit only one kubb per person, leaving an advantage line, and just like that, the game was over during the next round, as was our tournament.

It was a particularly hard loss to swallow, as a win would have made us top 16–a position that gives returning teams their own pool the next year. It would have been quite a strong showing for our ragtag team, but we let it slip out of our fingers–despite being entirely winnable. Ah well, even had be won we would not have moved beyond that–as the winner of our game had to go play the Knockerheads (a team that has not placed below third overall for the past four tournaments, and may be the best team in the nation). No matter how well we played, it is extremely improbable that we could have defeated the Knockerheads that day.

It was still a fantastic showing and a fun day! We went 4-5 in our matches and 8-4 in our games. (And again we had that one win on time that would have brought us to 9 total wins). That was a marked improvement over last years 8-6 showing. We finished the day tied for 17th out of 88 teams, not a bad showing for us, and something we were all pretty proud of. In the end the U.S National Kubb Championship 2014 had largely the same effect as it had on me the year before–my passion for kubb coming in was a small fire burning brightly and passionately, and the nationals fueled that fire into a raging inferno. James and I talked with the Bubik’s Kubbs to plan our upcoming tournament plans to return to the Clash of Kubb and Oktoberfest, and hopefully also making it to a few other new tournaments as well. Until then, I shall miss the banging and bashing of batons crashing and clanging into kubbs, in the constant cacophony at the crest of kubb competition.

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Making a Rubik’s Kubb

Recently we have been continuing to work on improving our game and getting better at Kubb. I have been watching many tournament videos and thinking about our past losses and what we need to do to improve. For quite some time I thought that we just needed to learn to hit better, return more consistently and accurately, and generally just practice and keep our calm.

But no longer. I have figured out the real secret. After thinking about our losses, and watching many videos, I have concluded one simple problem–we don’t have a “thing”. At Appleton every team in our opening pool had their thing. My nemesis Blazel always has his white shorts and blue tank. Steve Feathers has his overalls. King Kung has a giant stuffed gorilla. There clearly was something going on here. Observing other things at the tournament, I realized there was a large wooden man, whom I have determined must be Kubbin’ Karl. Clearly another example of a powerful artifact that our team would need if we were to ever win.

And so I needed to figure out what to make. But the answer was of course obvious. I needed to make an actual Rubik’s Kubb. A kubb shaped object that would turn and twist just like a Rubik’s Cube, properly colored, completely solvable. I figured that it would be possible to make it, just difficult. I found one of my old Rubik’s Cube’s, and found an extra kubb, and got to work.

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The plan was to cut the kubb into the 27 blocks I would need, and then start gluing them on to each of the pieces of the cube. I would have to ensure that every piece of the kubb getting glued on wasn’t larger than the piece of the kubb and get in the way of the action of the cube. Utilizing a band saw and some hand sanding, with some careful measurment, yielded the middle layer of pieces without too much work. It was coming along well, but the top and bottom layers would be much harder given that they would be sticking up a few inches.

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I had to carefully make sure that I labeled each side with the proper color otherwise I risked messing it up and making an unsolvable cube. (Which surely would have completely ruined the process and ensured we never won a kubb game again) With that firmly in mind I continued working, getting the next part figured out, which was a bit more tricky. But with the proper cuts, some good sanding, and some good old super glue, the Rubik’s Kubb began to take shape.

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It sure looked pretty good! It didn’t line up quite perfectly, but given the project, it came out pretty well shape wise. Very close to a real kubb (I should have taken a picture for comparison, maybe I will get around to adding on soon), and overall looked right. But now I had to make sure it would spin on each axis.

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All good! A bit sticky on some of the turns, but nothing too bad. It certainly would work and function similarly to a Rubik’s Cube. It could be turned, messed, up and solved again. Now it just needed the right colors.

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And there it was! It came out pretty darn well. Unfortunately I didn’t quite feel any power emanating off of it. So for those who already have their “things”, what is the proper protocol? Do you need some witche’s brew of the Basta Inkastere’s blood and the national champion’s hair? Or does it require a christening at a kubb tournament? A pilgrimage to Gotland? Or does it need the ritual sacrifice of batons, kubbs, and kungs? Or is it possible that I’m just a bit crazy?

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.

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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!