Introduction to the Planet Kubb Game Notation System

This article appears in the 2013 issue of Kubbnation Magazine.

It’s game 2 of the 2012 U.S. Nationals’ quarterfinals Knockerheads v. Tad Kubbler. The Knockerheads’ Josh Feathers prepares to throw in 9 kubbs. If Josh and the Knockerheads win this, they move foward to the semifinals.

Nine field kubbs and six batons. Will the Knockerheads leave Tad Kubbler an advantage line? And if they do – is their championship quest over?

With the Planet Kubb Game Notation it is now possible to start to answer these questions. Just as baseball has the all-telling box score, Kubb now has a simple, fast and effective, method of transcribing and archiving Kubb games for easy sharing and statistical analysis.

The Game Notation was developed by Jamie Thingelstad and Garrick van Buren early in 2012 as a simple way to describe each turn within a Kubb game. It debuted at the 2012 US Championship after being tested on several Kubb games on YouTube as well as field tested in actual game play. The Notation can be learned in a minute and it provides an easy guide to any Kubb game: a ‘B’ means a baseline kubb was hit, an ‘F’ means a field kubb was hit, and a ‘K’ means the king was slain.

With this we can describe a perfect Kubb games as follows:


One ‘B’ or baseline kubb hit by each of the first 5 batons with the final baton slaying the king – ‘K’.

We can even introduce a letter for each player, to denote who threw each baton. Take this team with players; Josh – ‘j’, Grant -‘g’, Dwayne – ‘d’:

j:B j:B g:B g:B d:B d:K

Of course, a Kubb game is made of more than baseline kubb hits and king shots. There’s missed shots, advantage lines, and throwing kubbs in. The Notation can capture all aspects of a kubb game and has been used to record nearly 100 tournament games worldwide already – including the quarterfinals bracket from the 2012 U.S. Nationals.

Let’s return to the quarterfinals game where Josh Feathers is about to throw in 9 kubbs. After analyzing the notation of each turns in the recorded games, we know there’s a 48% chance 1 of those 9 kubbs will remain – leaving an advantage line for the opponent. Additionally, there’s a 85% chance the opponent will immediately convert that advantage line into a win.

How do the Knockerheads perform?

Let’s take a look:

j:9i3r j:5F j:2F g:F g:- d:- d:F

Josh throws in 9 kubbs, and had to rethrow 3 (j:9i3r). Then with the very first baton he knocks down 5 field kubbs (j:5f), then 2 more with the 2nd baton (j:2F). Grant then takes care of one more field kubb (g:F), misses (g:-) and steps back for Dwayne. Dwayne also misses (d:-) risking the odds before toppling the final field kubb (d:F).

Tad Kubbler is now up with Eric Goplin (‘e’) throwing in 9 kubbs, after 4 rethrows.

e:9i4r c:3F c:- a:3F a:F e:- e:-

Cole (‘c’) immediately topples 3 field kubbs (c:3F) followed by a miss (c:-). Anders (‘a’) also hits a triple (a:3F) and a single (a:F). Unfortunately, Eric misses twice leaving an advantage line – just as the statistics predicted would happen with 9 field kubbs.

Also just as the statistics predicted, the Knockerheads immediately win.

j:7IR A j:5F j:F g:F d:K X X

Josh now only throws in 7 (and only 1 rethrow). Then he moves up to the advantage line (A) and topples 5 (j:5F) followed by a single (j:F). Grant finishes the last field kubb (g:F) then steps back while Dwayne slays the king (d:K). The Knockerheads move into the semifinals with 2 unthrown batons (X).

This quarterfinal game between Knockerheads and Tad Kubbler had 20 turns. Across those 20 turns, the Knockerheads hit wood 62% of the time compared to Tad Kubbler’s 60%. This tells us that these two teams are very evenly matched and both hold up well to the stresses of tournament-level play.

The notation isn’t just to tournament play. It’s easy enough to remember and quick enough to jot down during friendlies or practices to gauge your own skill level and track improvements.

The downloadable Planet Kubb Scoresheet includes the most used notation and supports a 20 turn game. Once the data is on the scoresheet (or even if it’s not), everyone is welcome to enter their game statistics into the Planet Kubb Wiki. This will automatically calculate hit percentages for the game, each player, and feed into the overall Kubb game statistics.

Additionally, Kubb players have started scoring games from tournaments (both in person and using YouTube videos) making it possible for us to understand both individual performances, team strengths and overall game dynamics. When game video is available – as it is for this Knockerheads v. Tad Kubbler game – the video is embedded into the Planet Kubb game page. This makes is easy to follow along as the game unfolds and revise the game’s notation as needed.

The Planet Kubb Game Notation is a tremendously exciting innovation for the sport of Kubb. It provides a statistical framework for understanding this simple, yet complex game. It adds the best of chess notation, the excitement of sports statistics and allows kubb teams to compare their play across time, languages and countries!

Planet Kubb Game Notation Primer

Kubb Tossing Phase
I number of kubbs thrown in.
R number of kubbs rethrown because they landed out of bounds.
P number of punishment kubbs thrown (kubbs thrown out of bounds twice).
Advantage Line
A indicates the team is throwing from an advantage line. Prepended number indicated estimated distance (in meters) of advantage.
Baton Tossing Phase
– (dash) baton did not knock anything down.
B base kubbs hit.
F number of field kubbs hit, prepended number indicates multiples.
K King hit

The full notation includes indicators for rescue kubbs, missed king shots, illegal throws, and everything else that happens in Kubb.

Full scoresheet for the game.


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