The 2011 Des Moines Kubb Fall Kubb Klassic was our sophomore year, and by every measure it was a resounding success. We had double the participation of last year and raised more than twice as much money for our sponsored charity, Animal Lifeline of Iowa.


We started Friday night at Felix & Oscar's and had a great time with a lot of our club members attending to mingle with a few of our traveling teams. Grant was awarded his SKAL Championship shirt and we talked shop with Sweden's Sons and The Ringers out of Eau Claire over some pretty good pizza as the beer flowed freely. JP Larson showed up late and he and his brother Mike stayed with Dobbie, Jamie, & I talking woodworking, rules minutiae, and tournaments past until well after wiser heads had left to rest up for the big day.


Saturday morning we arrived at the park as a light pre-dawn fog hung low across the battlefields, and I could feel that we were in for something special. Volunteers continuously rolled in and set to work, and set-up went smoothly and according to plan, another good sign of things to come. Registration began promptly at 8:30, and all teams showed up in time for our pre-game presentation at 9:45. Round One started just after ten, and while Round One had quite a few mismatches Round Two started the slugfest in earnest, seeing 6 of the 8 eventual quarterfinalists facing off. From then on it was a true endurance contest with the top half of the field in constant struggle over the 8 playoff berths, and everyone knowing that their next loss might effectively end their championship hopes.


We knew we were taking a risk with the DMK Klassic Tournament System because the continued success of the tournament rested in no small part on an impressive outing this year, and we were running it differently than anything that had been tried before. In the preceding days I had spent time scouring the program for errors, running a multitude of test tournaments with every scenario I could think of (teams leaving early, starting late, skipping rounds, oddball scoring - the works) and while I was finally happy with the tests, the first run in the field is always nerve wracking. The work paid off though, and the software performed exactly as intended. There were great match-ups in every round, nearly every team playing either the team that finished directly ahead of them or behind them (in many cases both!) and the teams that played the best that day made it to the playoffs. It's unlike anything else out there right now, but we think that there is room on the "Kubb Circuit" for a tournament that puts an emphasis on matching similar teams throughout the day. The best teams are put in a pressure cooker with the heat turned up to high, casual teams have the chance to enjoy the pastime with fellow fans of the game, and beginners can expect at least one even match as well as the chance to learn more about the game from enthusiasts eager to share it.

Here are the results (picture is a link to the PDF):

(and if you haven't seen it, be sure to check out Eric Anderson's write-up from the point of view of a top-tier traveling team here)

"Cinderella" stories are a little cliche, but most tournaments have at least one and ours was definitely King Pin (JP & Mike Larson). Ranked 15th after a loss in Round Three dropped them to 1-2 they dug in their heels and went undefeated thereafter until seeing the Knockerheads in the final match. Watching them battle their way from the back of the pack was fun to watch, and they were obviously having fun doing it! It was that fun-loving spirit of camaraderie that really made the day a success. The Kubb Abides was signed up as a pair but took on a third player they had never met before rather than see someone unable to find a partner turned away. After a grueling day (and a frustrating loss) the Ringers consented to a pick-up game with some locals who wanted to be able to say they’d played the best. The Wolfpack helped the very team that had eliminated them warm up for the championship match, and these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

This is Kubb, and none of us would have it any other way.