CONCORD, N.C. — The 2019 Skuffle for the Shovel began on an overcast, slightly cool day. The forecast called for rain, but much like the Gorton’s Fisherman on his way to troll the ocean for fish sticks, the combatants were prepared for anything. One person would walk away from Concord with The Shovel, their name emblazoned for all eternity on the snow moving device.
Play in the Klassic style tournament started around 11:30 in the morning with hopes high all around. By the end, hopes of all but one would be crushed like an 84 Ford Granada under the tire of Grave Digger.
The pitches were soft due to previous rain and allowed for good drilling throughout the day. Wind was minimal and the play reflected the good conditions. Close matches were all around. No one was able to complete preliminary play without a besmirched record. Three players, Mike Davids, Drew Gander, and Nick Bartlett all finished with one loss. Each player had beaten one of the other two and lost to one of the other two during round robin play, so it was decided that a tie breaker was needed to determine the top seed—two batons each, throwing at 8 meters.
Bartlett started and went zero for two. Davids followed, going 50 percent. Gander stepped up, channeled the fearlessness of the recently departed Super Dave Osborne, and went two for two to take the top seed and first round bye in the knockout round.
The upset of the tournament came in the first round of knockout play when Jeremy Mattsson took out Bartlett. Others to advance were Davids and Paul Borowicz. In the semi-finals, Gander defeated Borowicz two games to zero. Davids and Mattsson battled in a match that had more back and forth than a ping pong game between Forrest Gump and the great Ma Long. Mattsson pushed Davids to the brink of elimination with 10 kubbs in play before Davids was able to battle back and take the match. That set up a final match of Gander versus Davids. Raleigh Kubb versus Queen City Kubb. Hulk versus Andre. AOL versus Compuserve.
And that’s when the rain started.
With passers-by wondering why two people would stand in the deluge throwing sticks, the fist game unfolded with Queen City Kubb’s Davids taking an early lead and not relenting, clearing six field kubbs, a baseline kubb and the king with just five batons. The second game was close early, with Raleigh Kubb’s Gander giving up an advantage line with seven kubbs in play. Davids was unable to take full advantage, and Gander was able to finish the game the next round by taking out nine field kubbs and the king with all six batons.
The rubber match commenced with copious baton drying and three baseline kubbs each to speed up play. Davids won the king toss and took batons. The game was close, with Davids taking out four field kubbs, a baseline kubb and the king on his last turn, thus earning his name on The Shovel.
Leigh Northrup won the consolation bracket to take home the mini shovel.
Good times were had by all, and now attention turns to the East Coast Kubb Championship in the Charlotte, North Carolina area on March 23, 2019. A star-studded lineup of teams is expected. High temperatures in North Carolina in late March should be around 65 to 70 degrees, a welcome reprieve from the arctic found in much of the Midwest. More information can be found at www.eastcoastkubbchampionships.com.
Photos courtesy of Queen City Kubb.