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Klask!: "Silly wooden game" proving addictive in West Michigan breweries

Klask, Kevin Reder, World Champion.

Klask at Odd Side Ales in Grand Haven.

Klask Reid Warber, Kevin (World Champ), and Geno Mallo. Reid & Geno played at Odd Side Ales and secured slits at the US Klask Championships.

Late December 2013, Danish carpenter, Mikkel Bertelsen, turned to his garage workshop to make Christmas presents for friends and family. He devised a wooden board-game using magnets and small balls, something like air hockey but small enough to play on top of a table. Before long, he began receiving orders for the game from individuals, cafés, bars, and workplaces. In 2014, he built 3,000 more of the wooden games in his garage. He named the game Klask.

By 2014, Klask was featured on Danish national TV and named "Danish Game of the Year." Soon after, the World Klask Foundation was founded; national Klask associations formed in Denmark, Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, and United States. In September 2018, the Klask World Championship and World Cup will take place at The Beerhouse in Manchester, England—where a West Michigan player will have a chance to compete.

Two Klask players, Michael Pyne and Cece Riley, work together in social services in Muskegon. They also serve on the board of the US Klask Association.

“It’s all about trying to grow the game of Klask in the United States,” Riley says.  We’re building that infrastructure for local clubs, for sanctioned tournaments, how you compete in this game and climb up the tournament structure all the way up to the World Championship.”

“And, hopefully have fun,” adds Pyne. “I like board games, though Klask is not so much a board game but a game made of boards. I had seen it on the Internet, all these great reviews, won all these awards.”

Pyne bought his first Klask game as a Christmas gift for his grandchildren. When he and his wife took it out of the box, they started playing it—and kept it for themselves. Pyne enjoyed Klask so much that he reached out to the US Klask Association.

“Before you know it, we were on the board,” he says. “A lot of what I do in social work is mental health and suicide prevention. Klask is just about laughs and having a good time. You go to a public space, you’re making eye contact with your opponent, joking, and not on your phones.”

Pyne and other West Michigan Klask players have introduced the game to their favorite pups and breweries along the Lakeshore. Grand Rapids watch out! Klask is invading!

Playing Klask

To play Klask, two players face each other over the wooden game board. Each places one hand under the board to control a magnet that maneuvers a striker on the playing surface.  Players attempt to score goals while avoiding white “biscuit” magnets that affix to the strikers. (If a player moves his striker too close, he picks up a biscuit. If the player picks up two biscuits, the opponent scores a point.) Riley notes that picking up biscuits is the game’s main source of laughter. The opponent also scores points if the player loses control of their striker or falls into the goal (Klask!). According to the World Klask Association, the game takes 15 seconds to learn and five minutes to play one round.

Pyne and Riley regularly play at Grand Haven’s Odd Side Ales taproom. They and fellow board member, Kevin Reder, are planning qualifying tournaments there and at Grand Rapids’ City Built Brewing. (Reder, a Midland, Michigan resident, currently holds the Klask World Championship title.) The player who wins the qualifiers will travel to the Klask World Championship in Manchester for free. Both breweries also host regular Klask events and have games on-hand for patrons to play any time.

“It’s just fun,” says Pyne. “You look at this game—it’s a silly wooden game. But, it has this really oddly attractive and addicting sort of quality to it. As soon as you put it on the table, people start to play.”

Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Michael Pyne

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