Kubb, the supposedly-ancient Swedish lawn game



Kubb is a lawn game, featuring several “kubbar” (“kubbs”, wood blocks) stood on end and a single “kung” (king) in the center of the field, as players take turns tossing batons in attempt to topple first all the kubbs and then the king. Kubb is a fun and interesting game, and making your own set is a relatively simple undertaking. The problem comes in documenting the game’s history. Kubb apparently became popular internationally after the introduction of a commercial version introduced in the 1990s, which included a rule book stating that Kubb, allegedly also called “Viking chess”, was a game developed in Viking Age Sweden, though this claim was not supported with any scholarly references. 

As I continued searching for references, I began to suspect that this “Viking chess”, like so many other “Viking fu” phenomena, had originated in the 19th or 20th century as an attempt at recreating…

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