A firm favourite with everyone here at Around Tenby, we can be found regularly playing at Monkstone Beach. Just follow the clonk of a baton on Kubb, the “Ooooo!” of a good shot being achieved, and the sound of laughter. Kubb is a game that almost anyone of any age, ability or even mobility can play. If you can throw a small baton a short distance you can play.
As restrictions ease and more freedom beckons, the fun of long summer days on the beach now seems within reach. As well as the usual wonderful beach pastimes of sandcastles, kite flying, paddling and frisbee, perhaps a new game all friends and family could enjoy together would be a great addition. On the perfect and beautiful beaches Around Tenby, you have the most stunning Kubb court in the world.
Believed to be over a thousand years old, it was once played by Vikings and is popular in Scandinavian countries, where it is knick-named Viking Chess. In its most basic form, it is a classic two-team game, with a simple, portable kit that can easily be taken to a beach, park or garden. Simple to set up and with rules that children can master easily, teams of 1-6 can take part.
The equipment consists of ten small wooden skittles, in the form of oblong wooden blocks called Kubbs. There is also one larger skittle, which is the King, and six throwing sticks or batons. Your kit may also have four marker pegs. To mark out your “court” measure a rectangle with long strides and push your marker pins into the ground at each corner. For younger players 8 x 5 m (26 x 16 ft) is perfect, but courts can also extend to 10 x 8 m (33 x 26 ft). You can’t go wrong if you imagine a space the size of about ¼ of a tennis court.
Your “baselines” are the shorter ends and you place five upright Kubbs in an equal row along each of them. Right in the centre, on an imaginary parallel line (called the middle line) that divides the court between the baselines, place your King. Knocking him down last and winning the game is your ultimate aim!
As you all become more skilled and competitive it also gets funnier as everyone competes to play better. There is a knack for throwing the batons, they must be thrown underarm with the baton travelling end to end, not sideways or helicopter fashion. Once you have mastered this, the play becomes strategic as the game moves back and forward to each team’s advantage. You can really interrupt your opponent’s play by throwing the Kubbs back in certain areas, so they are a challenge to knock down again. And of course, there is elation if you are the lucky player who gets to knock down the King!
You will find the full rules here:
Kubb sets can be bought cheaply online, starting at about £17. For heavier, better quality and more durable ranges expect to pay about £30-£50. You can even buy small children’s sets for £9 for the really young ones, aged about 3-6. They are invariably plain unvarnished wood, so perhaps a lovely idea is to get the children to personalise your set by decorating the Kubbs, and most definitely the King. You could use brightly coloured markers or poster paints, or even print out images and glue and varnish them for a truly unique Kubb set. A coat of wax or tough varnish will help them withstand being clonked by the throwing sticks.
Kubb is such a fun game to play in the sunshine. It takes no time to set up and learn. It’s also good for you, expect plenty of bending and stretching, lots of steps and movement and lots of laughs. It’s suitable for most surfaces, with grass, gravel, sand, concrete and even snow, in true Scandi fashion, being ideal. Just try to ensure your pitch is flat and fairly smooth. Kubb is also an ideal game for the current times as families or groups can easily distance, keep hands and the batons sanitised or even have their own sets of batons colour coded with bright tape. As a basic set fits a box not much bigger than a large shoebox, it’s perfect to keep in the car for an impromptu game anytime!
But we warn you, prepare to be hooked and for Kubb to become a big part of your summer holidays because no one ever plays Kubb only once. If something lasts a thousand years, it’s for a good reason!