The Man Who's Changing a Community's Identity Through a Nordic Lawn Game
Kubb. If you’ve been around the Chippewa Valley lately, you’ve no doubt heard or read that word, and you’ve probably even seen a game being played in a neighbor’s yard or at a park. That’s a pretty amazing phenomena considering the game hadn’t been played here until about five years ago. And Eric Anderson is the reason for it. He’s the man who introduced us to the addictive Nordic lawn game that rhymes with “tube,” is also known as “Viking chess” (there’s a king piece and strategy involved), and works on grass as well as snow.
Organized kubb get-togethers (called “friendlies” to welcome newbies) began almost immediately after Anderson moved to Eau Claire in 2007. Those visible events combined with regular playing in local parks, neighborhood lawns, and at well-attended festivals (where players always encourage others to join in) have helped the game sweep the Valley like a viral sensation. And Anderson didn’t stop there. He soon established the U.S. National Kubb Championship in Eau Claire, our country’s official tournament and one of the biggest in the world, as well as WisconsinKubb.com, USAkubb.org, and Kubbnation Magazine.
Now other Midwestern groups have started tournaments, and there are leagues through bars and parks & rec departments. Anderson has taught it at local schools, and major retailers like Menards have even carried sets. And just to make Anderson’s impressive efforts official, the Eau Claire City Council passed a resolution saying we’re the Kubb Capital of North America.
Some may dismiss kubb as just a game or a fad, but its local impact is undeniable. It has joined people together, helping us share common ground as we teach each other the game – and for many, that’s the real attraction to those simple blocks of wood.