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Throwing game from Sweden comes to Michigan

  • Article by: DEBBIE McGUINESS
  • Associated Press
  • September 2, 2014 - 3:15 AM

PETOSKEY, Mich. — Phil Dickinson of Alanson first learned of the game kubb about nine years ago and started creating the wooden pieces used in the outdoor lawn game.

Employed in social work, Dickinson is also a woodworker. He has fashioned wooden swings, along with games such as ladder golf, and with his family is a vendor at area craft shows and fairs.

"I have my 'people' job, and my 'woodworking hobby,'" Dickinson told the Petoskey News-Review ( http://bit.ly/1p5QaFC ).

"I was fascinated by the game of kubb and taught my family to play," he said. "The game was probably created in the 1900s in Sweden and is growing in popularity in the Midwest . Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. And hopefully, now northern Michigan."

Dickinson recently returned from a kubb tournament in Eau Claire, Wis., where he met Eric Anderson, an American who earned the title "best player in the world" and whose team finished second in the tournament.

"I wanted to see what kubb tournaments are all about," said Dickinson. "Eric is very good at spreading the word about kubb and I wanted to bring a tournament to Michigan."

Dickinson is organizing the Great Lakes Kubb Championship 2014 which will take place Sept. 27 at Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga in Alanson. Cost is $30 per team and all proceeds will be donated to The Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund. Kubb tournaments nationally designate a charity or organization to support. Dickinson's brother-in-law, Justin Payton of Alanson, was killed in Iraq, he said.

"We donate every year to The Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund."

Game sets will be provided at the tournament by Dickinson and no experience is necessary to play. How to play kubb will be taught Sept. 26 in the soccer field at Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga, as well as an additional clinic on Saturday prior to the championship.

Dickinson describes kubb as an old Nordic game played with wooden game pieces. The game is played with six batons, 10 kubbs, one king and six marking stakes. With marking stakes, an area, called the pitch, is formed. That area is a rectangle about 16 feet by 26 feet (8 meters by 5 meters) with the king in the center. The strategic throwing game is nicknamed "Viking Chess" and is described as a combination of bowling, bocce and horseshoes.

Similar to pitching horseshoes underhand, the batons are thrown in turn at opponents' kubbs, and once the kubbs have been knocked over, the next target is the king in the center of the pitch.

"The batons are lightweight and not difficult to throw by young children," Dickinson said. "I've seen 7-year-olds playing with 70-year olds. It is a great family game, with easy rules. It can be played on grass, sand and even snow."

Teams at the tournament will be a minimum of three players and a maximum of six. Medals will be awarded to the top three teams and those of all age levels are welcome, Dickinson said.

"We will teach you to play kubb, which is pronounced 'coob' prior to the tournament."

The tournament will follow the U.S. Kubb Championship rules, found at www.usakubb.org/rules.php. The site also has a three minute video, "How to Play Kubb."

"There are kubb clubs in Kalamazoo, at Western Michigan University, Detroit has a team . it is spreading throughout Michigan," he said.

Spectators and participants may wish to bring coolers with food and drinks, screened tents or shelters and camp chairs. Registration deadline is Sept. 22.

Dickinson is also the author of more than 15 books, he said, including "Yard Games from Around the World," which includes a brief history of kubb and other games.

This is an AP Member Exchange provided by the Petoskey News-Review.

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