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.


Introducing Planet Kubb

This article appears in the 2013 issue of Kubbnation Magazine.

Very late one evening in February of 2012 I sent this email to my friend Garrick:

Subject: Kubb River
From: Jamie Thingelstad <>
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2012 00:15:20 -0600
To: Garrick Van Buren <>

Got timestamps working on feeds so it is right now. Just need to move this river to
Planet Kubb and give it a better HTML.

Jamie Thingelstad via iPhone

Three days prior to that I had thought to make a feed of Kubb blog posts, videos and anything else I could find just for my personal use. When I saw that river of Kubb come together I thought it was immediately useful and interesting. I’ve been an Internet geek since the early 90’s and knew that there were a number of “planet feeds” out there that aggregated everything they could find on a topic, usually an open source project. I saw my little river of Kubb and thought to myself “I wonder if there should be a planet feed for Kubb? Planet Kubb?” And with that and the email above Planet Kubb was created.

For years I’ve hosted my own personal and hobby websites. I run several WordPress blogs, several MediaWiki powered wikis. I’ve been a constant explorer of this type of software for over a decade. I have two virtual servers at Linode to run all of my projects on so after I setup the initial Planet Kubb website I started thinking about more interesting things that could be put up for the Kubb community. I was poking around and discovered an open source package called Question2Answer that can be used to power question and answer websites. Right away I knew this was something that would be interesting for Kubb so I pinged Garrick since I couldn’t figure out what to call it and he immediately replied…

Ask Planet Kubb

Ask Planet Kubb was launched just 4 days later on February 18th. Today, Ask Planet Kubb has over 300 answers to more than 100 questions. Topics ranging from how to practice to optimal placement of penalty kubbs to the more light-hearted question of all the pre-throw baton flipping.

Ask Planet Kubb has become the “go to” place to get input on whatever questions you have about Kubb. There are Kubb players from the US, Sweden, Germany and a number of other countries actively answering and exchanging comments. A major highlight occurred on Ask Planet Kubb on August 7, 2012 when a discussion around the process of standing Kubbs near the center pin resulted in a rules clarification with US, Swedish and German Kubb players engaging in the discussion.

Quickly Ask Planet Kubb became a place to discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of competitive kubb – but where to document the decisions?

Planet Kubb Wiki

The Planet Kubb Wiki started as a directory of vocabulary, tournaments, teams, players, and a nascent page about Kubb notation “Some ideas on how to keep something like a box score for a Kubb match. The most repeatable action is the baton toss so that is the key to pace the sheet.”

A couple months later, Garrick brought a blank piece of paper to a lunchtime game of lunch and we took turns documenting each baton throw. Over the next few weeks, the Planet Kubb Game Notation and Scoresheet were flushed out. Both got their first real test during the championship bracket at the 2012 US National Kubb Championship where Garrick, Tony Hansen of Des Moines Kubb, Chad Bevers of Fox Valley Kubb, and I scored all the championship games. With the notation now baked deep into the wiki with automatically calculated game, teams and player statistics we can start to raise our level of understanding of Kubb to an entirely new level.

I have great hopes that we will see further adoption of the Planet Kubb Notation system and that it starts to be used as a means of archiving and sharing game results across clubs as well as countries and languages. I truly believe it is the most significant contribution that Planet Kubb has made to the game in our brief time working on stuff. I hope to be able to follow the championship game at the Kubb VM someday by getting Tweets of each turn transmitted using the notation. “8i3r 4f 3f f b K – # Team Ekeby wins the Kubb VM!”. Please see separate article in Kubbnation on the Planet Kubb Notation System.

The Planet Kubb Wiki aims to be the central archive of all Kubb related information available. It is a directory of Kubb clubs, an archive of games played, a place to see the brackets from previous tournaments and the most complete reference of Kubb content on the web. The best part? You can help make it better of course by creating an account and contributing additional content!

Planet Kubb Network

I have long wished that there were more Kubb teams with blogs. I wish that there was a better option for tournaments and clubs to have a nice website platform. There are a lot of Facebook pages for Kubb clubs, but they lack more depth on the clubs, members and their thoughts on Kubb. After wishing something better would exist it hit me that Planet Kubb could make that something better and on October 20th the Planet Kubb Network was launched.

Using the Planet Kubb Network any Kubb team, club, event or even player can have their own WordPress-powered website to share whatever Kubb related information they want. You don’t have to pay anything. The sites are hosted via Planet Kubb. And the content is all yours. If you wish to move it somewhere else later you can export everything and head off to a different website.

All of the sites in the Planet Kubb Network are automatically included in the distribution feeds we syndicate on Facebook and Twitter so you get an instance tap into Kubb fans around the world. And, the network supports localization into Swedish, German and Dutch right now and other languages are easy to add.


In the past 6 months Planet Kubb has had over 15,000 visits from over 50 different countries around the world. What’s next for Planet Kubb? In 2013 Planet Kubb will award the US Kubb Club Championship for the first time. The Kubb Club that collects the most points from it’s three representative teams in the US National Championship will be named the top Kubb club in the US! Will your club be the one?

To a large extent thought he future of Planet Kubb is in the Kubb communities hands. Get involved on Ask Planet Kubb and answer some questions. Contribute some content to the Planet Kubb Wiki. Score some games and add them to the corpus of games on the Planet Kubb Wiki. Add your local Kubb clubs and events. Thank you for helping build out the most vibrant Kubb community on the Internet!