Photo courtesy of Ryan Kolden.

CHASKA, Minn. — When Chaska hosts a tournament, the louder the better. With loud rock music playing (and even echoing) across the lake on a picturesque day for kubb, it only became louder when host JP’s Backyard Games handed out cowbells for all competitors after the lunch break. Twenty-four competitors showed up all thinking that they were leaving with the trophy in their hand.

In the fifth year of the singles tournament, action returned to Fireman’s Park after a host of other sites; the park reopened this year with a six-lane curling center on-site. Competitors were able to watch the bonspiel take place during the lunch break in a uniquely designed space. The Crooked Pint served up some tasty treats at lunch and, as always, supplied a variety of local beverages on tap.

This tournament usually introduces a new twist on some rules and this year’s addition was the ability to pull the center pin during the blasting phase. Numerous competitors used this to their advantage throughout the day. The Neighbor Rule was in effect and Paul Knutson (aka Neighbor) was on hand to explain it. Two of the three past champions were participants and J.P. put a bounty on their head if anyone could beat them. Chaska Club members brought beverages of their choice and J.P. supplied a selection of kubb-related items and other games as prizes. If anyone beat a former champion they were awarded a beverage, a game, and the honor of ringing the large cowbell. The bell was rung a number of times.

This tournament exposes a kubb player’s weaknesses and highlights strengths. One bad round can mean the difference between being seeded nine or 19. After seven rounds of the Klassic system, the top 16 were put into best of three games. A win meant another best of three. A loss meant a move to the silver bracket to play the best of one game. Brian Winistorfer took out Ford Rolfsrud for third place. Winistorfer had to play at least 15 games to take third place.

In the semi-finals, we saw an all-Chaska field. Phil Goetstouwers beat Ford Rolfsrud and Matt Erdman beat Mark Oman. In the finals, Erdman used his momentum of beating both former champions—and ringing the bell twice—to take the finals. Matt only needed 17 batons in two games to beat Goetstouwers: nine in game one and eight in game two. That is almost perfect kubb.

If you look closely at the board you will see the excitement in Erdman’s signature after beating two-time defending champion Darren Finger.