Photos courtesy of Abby Anderson Jones and Christian Mathews
GERMANY — I love to travel. Exploring a new city, stumbling into the best [insert food dish] of your life by accident, and seeing all of the things you read about in school in person are some of my greatest joys. I also love kubb. My wife would even say it’s an obsession. I try my best to do both as often as possible. Recently I was able to combine the two.
My wife and I had the opportunity to visit Germany. It’s one of my favorite countries—due partly to my heritage, and probably partly to their exceptional beer. We had the chance to join a group trip that included a stop in Berlin, so we jumped on it. Berlin was number one on my “to visit” list.
In my time following kubb online, I became aware of how it has grown out of Sweden into mainland Europe. I knew there were at least a few teams in Germany, so I started asking around to see if anyone had a contact there. After a few “talk to this person” leads, I was able to connect on Facebook with a handful of German kubb players. I sent my itinerary and got some responses from players in both Dresden and Berlin. I was so excited!
My first meetup was with Matthes in Dresden. I was there for two nights and luckily our availability overlapped. We played right on the edge of the Elbe River, with the historic skyline of the old city as a backdrop. It was an unreal experience.
Matthes seemed just as excited as I was. We set up a pitch and started playing right away. He had brought a smaller set than I was used to back in the U.S. It was really interesting to play on something slightly different. The kubbs were a little taller and skinnier, while the batons seemed ever so slightly thinner. We discussed rules, strategy, the German Kubb Association, and tournaments around the world. We taught each other the terms we use for different pieces of equipment, and most importantly some of our native kubb slang. My favorite was “Dublettekönig,” which Matthes starting calling me after I hit a field to baseline double. It means “double king” in German. The name stuck after my second and third examples of this. Maybe it was luck, maybe it was the smaller kubbs, or maybe I really am a Dublettekönig. I like to think the latter.
After nearly every match I would ask Matthes if he had someplace to be or if he wanted to play another. He was always was up for another game. It was nearly four hours and starting to get dark before we finally called it quits.
A couple days after Dresden I was able to meet up with some more German kubb players in Berlin. I was introduced to Christian by my brother, Bryan. Last summer he had visited Michigan and met up with Jesse Fraim (Kalamazoo Kubb), Bryan Jones (Motor City Kubb), and Phil Dickinson (Great Lakes Kubb). After chatting about my planned dates in Berlin, Christian sent out a message to other area players.
We were able to gather a group of six area players. We met in a city park where we played for a few hours in the late afternoon. The weather wasn’t warm or sunny, but it was decent enough to let us enjoy our time outside.
This time we played on a set from the World Championship in Sweden. Germany is in the process of moving towards these bigger sized sets. This is what’s used in the U.S. too, so I felt a little more comfortable than with the smaller set we used in Dresden.
There was good conversation, good beer, and good kubb. What more could you ask for? I’m truly grateful I was able to play with everyone in Berlin. They were a great bunch of people!
Overall, it was an absolutely amazing experience to meet these fellow kubbers. The fact that a yard game, of all things, brought us together is just awesome. The game of kubb really does unite people. With all of the kindness I’ve encountered (from all over the world, now) makes me think it really can create peace on earth too.