September 2013 saw the inaugural Specsavers Forum6 Kubb tournament being played.
The Forum6 building in Whiteley, Hampshire houses many of Specsavers UK based support staff (IT, HR etc). Following a conversation at a Sports and Social Team open forum, at which your correspondent found himself talking to someone who had actually heard of Kubb (courtesy of "Dave Gorman vs The Rest Of The World"), it was decided that the idea of a Kubb tournament should be progressed.
The first challenge was to find some players - yours truly being the only person in the building to have actually played before. Starting small, I invited a few of my team mates to swap their usual lunchtime activities for the chance to stand in a field throwing lumps of wood around - it says a lot about their regular habits that they mostly jumped at the chance! Everyone who tried it quickly picked up on the tactical complexity that hides behind the game's superficial simplicity, and soon enough they were hooked. Word of mouth meant that others soon volunteered to give it a try so that within a few weeks there were 8 players who could no longer be called complete novices - and the competition was on!
It was decided that the tournament should be contested by 8 teams of 2, each team comprising someone who had played before and a novice. Finding 8 volunteers to be novices was relatively easy, and the pairings were drawn. The format of the tournament was as follows:
- two groups of 4 teams, each team playing one match against each other team in its group
- each match to be the best of 3 Kubb games
- three points awarded for a 2-0 victory, two points for 2-1
- the winners of each group to play the runners up from the other group in a knock out semi-final
- two semi-final winners to play in a knock out final
- (I had hoped that the semi-finals and final might be played over best of five games but maybe that was too ambitious for year 1, so they too were best of 3)
The matches were played at lunchtimes on a grassed area just outside the Forum6 building, and attracted quite a bit of interest from non-competitors within Specsavers (who could be seen watching from the windows), and also employees of other companies based on the same business park. The enthusiasm of the players involved meant that the 15 matches were completed inside 17 days, some sort of a record for Specsavers where similar competitions can sometimes drag on for months. For the record, the tournament was won by Kicking Urban Bad Boys (see what they did there?) who fought back to win the final 2 games to 1 having lost the first game when a wayward return of a field kubb knocked over the king. Those same Bad Boys put paid to my team's chances with a 2-0 semi-final rout!
The Sports and Social Team funded prizes for the winners - each player getting their own Kubb set and the team being awarded a winners trophy (being in true Kubb tradition a customised Kubb king!)
Better still, two Kubb sets have been purchased for the ongoing use of Specsavers team members, so I think I am on fairly safe ground when I say this year's tournament will not be the last! Next year, starting earlier in the year, there is the possibility of the tournament going on for longer and therefore being bigger, and hopefully those who just watched this year can be persuaded to play.
Other plans? Specsavers team(s) at the British Championship? Inter-office tournaments in Whiteley? Kubb in the Olympics? Who knows!