10th Time’s the Charm

Planet Kubb Scoresheet 10 + stats

For almost 2 years, Jamie and I have been working on a 1-page form to easily and quickly document a kubb game while it’s in progress. The latest version (iteration 10) incorporates a stats section to quickly calculate team performance (without an electronic device). This latest iteration also solves the awkwardness knowing which team opens a game and displays all the elements of the Planet Kubb Game Notation.

My graphic design side is especially proud of how all the elements fit into place in a usable way. The credit I believe has to do with: understanding how the Scoresheet will be used (dozens of tournament games were scored), aggressively removing insignificant/unused elements, and stopping when we ran out of actionable information. You know – applying Design Principles.

More about the new Planet Kubb Scoresheet here.

Here’s four of the previous iterations for comparison:
Iteration #9
Planet Kubb Scoresheet 9
Iteration #7
Planet Kubb Scoresheet 7
Iteration #4
Planet Kubb Scoresheet 4
Iteration #2
Planet Kubb Scoresheet 2

Kubbchuck’s 2013 Loppet Tournament Recap

Over on the Kubbchucks blog I wrote up our 2013 Loppet tournament experience. Here’s a quick snippet:

“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.”

How Kubb Saved My Life

In the summer of 2011, my third child had just turned a year old. I was just beginning to feel reconnected with the world and something approximating normal. My business was having one of its best years, in no small part to my part-time assistant. Yet, despite the optimistic signs all around me – I was still selling and working as if the world would end tomorrow. Projects I wanted to forget for clients I wanted to ignore. My regular exercise routine was pacing between my 30″ monitor and the coffee pot. I wouldn’t leave my house for days at a time. I couldn’t hide it behind my computer any more – I had lost count of Days Since I Last Shaved. My temper was getting short. The slightest inconvenience would set me off. I was making my life and my family’s life worse. Not better. I didn’t know how to stop. I was convinced that if I just worked a little harder, a little faster, held my breath just a little bit longer…everything would magically stabilize and I could exhale.

In early August, two of my favorite people in the world came to visit and set up this strange game in my backyard. A simple game of 11 square wooden blocks and 6 wooden sticks. They were a little unsure of the rules – though they knew that 5 of the wooden blocks were placed on opposing sides, the larger king – placed in middle, and each side took turns throwing the sticks at the opposing sides blocks. The other parts of game play weren’t as clear. – It didn’t matter, we played game after game for was seemed like hours. The futility of throwing wooden sticks at wooden blocks 20 feet away was rewarded by the timeless, satisfying ‘thwak’ when they met.

Kubb – they called it.

Days later, my friends continued on their journey and took their Kubb with them. Kubbless, I returned to my unhealthy downward spiral. Yet, Kubb kept whispering in my ear. A few weeks later I purchased my first Kubb set. It sat mostly unplayed, whispering to me, until my 37th birthday. Where in the middle of a mild, Minnesota winter, I invited a bunch of friends over to play. And we did.

We joked about taking this silly wooden game seriously.
We joked about playing competitively.
We joked about making team shirts.

Then, I found out City of Lakes Loppets hosts a Kubb winter tournament that’s considered the start of the competitive Kubb season. Outside in February – in Minnesota. I pulled together two friends and we entered. Walking into the tournament I remember saying to Jim, “there’s this one part of the gameplay I don’t quite understand.” He shrugged and we waited for our first game.

That first game lasted no more than 5 minutes. Same as the second. In those 2 short games – Jim, Jamie and I got just a faint whiff of the strategy permeating the game and the bowling-esque short game it can create. We tried to apply what we were learning as quickly as we could, clawing our way into the championship bracket.

After that tournament, I set up that pitch in my backyard and practiced. The long game, the short game, everything. The 3 of us would play at lunchtime downtown. It quickly became clear that we needed to hone our game for the U.S. Nationals in July. And we did.

This past summer, when I had a hard problem on a client project – I’d step outside and throw some wood. Sometimes I’d play against myself, other times I’d practice one or two aspects of the game. I found that, in pure Buddhist tradition, a successful practice required no thoughts in my head. A clear, focused mind brought a hit every time. Any single thought guaranteed a miss. It would feel like hours melted away. Yet the clock would say only 30 minutes. Sometimes 45. I was always refreshed.

I started sleeping better. I stopped drinking 2 pounds of coffee a week. My inlaws started commenting on how much color was in my complexion.

At U.S. Nationals – we thought we were ready. We weren’t. We were ice cold. Couldn’t hit anything. But we could hold on. If we didn’t lose immediately, we could drag the game on for a hour. A slow painful slog only relieved by the tournament organizer calling time. Again we clawed our way into the Championship bracket. Again we lost immediately. Two long days in the heat of the midwestern sun. I felt we should have done better. I went home – and didn’t touch my set for a week.

When I set it back up, I found a comfortable throwing style and some new delightful aspects of the game I overlooked before; there’s no technology in Kubb, no internet, no inbox, but it does have lots of friends.

But most importantly – it’s just throwing wood across the lawn. A simple game. A simple game that saved my life.

6 Players are Too Few, 10 is Better

Coming out of my third kubb tournament of 2012 and my first 6-player tournament, I’m even more convinced a 6-player kubb team is an awkward number.

This year at U.S. Nationals this year Jamie, Jim and I played under the Kubbchucks banner. I was the primary inkastare – for something like 9 hours non-stop. After the hundredth time inkasting 8 kubbs in the hot Midwestern sun, I was exhausted and didn’t want to aim and throw another god damn piece of wood.

So – first off, it’d be really good to have 2 inkastares – neither of which throw batons. At minimum a relief inkastare. Ideally, someone that can consistently inkast deep, ~7m.

That brings us up to 8 players.

There’s also huge value in having someone just watch the pitch and coach the players – both the baton throwers and the inkastares. Some one to build strategy against the evolving pitch and keep players conservative.

9 players.

In Dallas this year, the Kubbchucks had 7 players. Rotating a player in and out as we saw fit. The relief and flexibility this 7th player provided was instrumental in helping us reach the Quarterfinals.

10 players.

A serious team with enough energy and management to power through a championship bracket. And a damn lot of people behind the pitch.

Until I can build out this super team, I have a strong preference for 3 player teams.

“Nearly all the text is rubbish, but no-one now knows which parts are true.”

“This ‘Kubb’ entry was rescued from Wikipedia on 25th September 2006, in its most extreme and most untrue state. The article was subject to a sustained assault over a five-month period by contributors who were reacting against the censorious approach of one Wikipedia official. Gradually they changed the text, added fictitious names and events, and generally abused the concept of Kubb, whatever that may be.

Kubb is a game of uncertain origins and with no official organisation to codify its rules. This uncertainty and ignorance makes it an ideal subject to be economical with the truth thereof.

Nearly all the text is rubbish, but no-one now knows which parts are true.”