Kyykkä is a traditional team sport originating from Karelia, East of Finland. The basic idea of the game is to knock kyykkäs (small wooden cylinders) out of your own game-square by throwing a karttu (stick, resembling baseball bat). The rules are listed later on this page.
Every February more than 4000 students gather to Hervanta, Tampere to play this game and to figure out who is the World Champion of this noble game. 512 team places in open class and 128 team places in women's class are sold out almost immediately each year.
To make the championships worldwide there will be a special ISE (I Speak English) series customized for the exchange students and other internationally minded people. The official language of ISE-series is English and the games are played and judged in English. Rules and other info will also be available in English.
The sign-up link will be added here later.
You can preorder afterparty tickets and additional overall badges with the sign-up.
Do you want to be a referee in ISE? The sign-up link will be added here later.
Any questions? Email us: ISE@kyykka.fi
The idea of Kyykkä is to remove the team’s own kyykkäs from their playing square by throwing
at them with karttus. The team which has removed more kyykkäs wins the game.
The kyykkä field is 20 metres long and 5 metres wide. A 5 m x 5 m playing
square is drawn to each end of the field. The distance between the playing squares is 10
metres. The field is drawn on a suitably large and even area.
3. PLAYING EQUIPMENT
A kyykkä is a cylinder-shaped object made of wood. The height of a kyykkä is 10 cm and the
radius is 6 to 8 cm. For a game of Kyykkä a total of 80 kyykkäs are needed: 20 pairs on the
front line of each playing square. It is advisable to have some extra kyykkäs in case some are
broken during the game.
A karttu is a baseball bat-like heavy wooden object with a handle. The allowed maximum
length of a karttu is 85 cm and the maximum radius is 8 cm. When manufacturing karttus,
painting and performance-enhancing forti cations are allowed.
For a game of Kyykkä a total of 4 karttus are needed. The World Championships of Academic
Kyykkä offers karttus as well as a set of kyykkäs for all of its games. The players are also allowed to use their own karttus, provided that their opponent can also use them.
4. KYYKKÄ VOCABULARY
Throwing square. The square from which the team throws their karttus.
The teams play from opposite squares, which is why the
square names are exactly vice versa for the teams.
Playing square. The square from which the team tries to remove the
kyykkäs by throwing at them with karttus.
Akka. A kyykkä left in the playing square, on the front line or
on the outer border of the playing square less than 10 cm
from the front line.
Pappi. A kyykkä left on the outer border, more than 10 cm
away from the front line.
Kuokkavieras. A kyykkä that has bounced to the area between the
Half A game consists of two halves, between which the
players change sides of the field. Each player throws 4 karttus
during a half.
A Kyykkä team consists of four players. In the World Championships of Academic Kyykkä it is
possible to change players between games but not during one.
There are three types of referees presiding over the games at the World Championships of
Academic Kyykkä: field referees, regional referees and tournament referees. The referees are
always right and they are to be obeyed and helped at all times.
6.1. Field Referee
Each field has a field referee who fairly and justly presides over the games at that field, regardless
of any bribes. The field referee oversees the game and writes down the game scores
abiding by these rules. Any complaints about the field referee’s actions must be directed to
the tournament referee. In case a field referee is broken, the tournament referee assigns a
new referee to the field.
6.2. Regional Referee
Regional referees oversee the games in their region, helping the field referees in emerging
6.3. Tournament Referee
Field referees and regional referees are lead and supervised by one or more tournament referees.
The tournament referees are in charge of all the games and are the highest authority
in solving possible disagreements in games.
At the beginning of each half, 20 pairs of kyykkäs are set on the front line of each square. The
kyykkäs in one pair are set on top of each other, creating a tower. 10 cm of free space must
be left on both ends of the front line. The players are allowed to set up the field before the
game and between halves. At all other times only the referee is allowed to maintain the field.
Any extra items or people not in throwing turn are removed from the field by the referee.
The players are responsible of setting up the field for the next game or half.
8.1. Choosing Sides And Throwing Order
Before starting a game, the sides and the starting team are decided by hutunkeitto, which
is used in Finnish baseball games.
The referee summons the team captains to the field. One of the captains throws an upright
karttu for the referee, who catches it from the air. The other captain then places his hand
above the referee’s hand, little finger touching the referee’s hand. The referee lets go and
the captains continue taking grips in turns until one of them is holding the karttu so that
the other cannot grab it anymore. The last one holding the karttu wins the hutunkeitto.
The team of hutunkeitto winner then chooses whether they want to decide on the starting team or on
the sides. The team of hutunkeitto loser decides on the matter not decided by the other team.
A throw starts when the player lets go of the karttu being thrown, and ends when the karttu
exits the playing square or each piece of playing equipment stops moving. Per se, the karttus
are thrown using only one hand but in Academic Kyykkä players are allowed to throw
using both hands.
8.2.2. Opening Throw
Men start the game by throwing the opening throw from behind the field. Women begin the
game behind the front line of their throwing square.
An opening throw is successful if at least one kyykkä exits the playing square. If not, the
players continue playing using opening throws until they manage to remove at least one
kyykkä from the playing square. After a successful opening throw, the players are allowed
to move over to their normal throwing line. The men’s throwing line is the front line of the
throwing square. Women are allowed to throw from their own line 2 meters closer to the
During a turn, two players of a team throw two karttus each, making the total amount of
karttus thrown four per turn. Players must take the two karttus with themselves to the throwing
square and throw their two karttus one after another. A player is not allowed to exit
the throwing square between his or her throws. The player can only change karttus from the
throwing square with the referee’s permit.
If a karttu, thrown with little force, stops and stays in the playing square, it is only removed
after the whole turn. A kyykkä is considered to be out immediately after it exits the playing
square. In case a successfully removed kyykkä bounces back to the square, the referee removes
the kyykkä after the throw.
8.2.4. Checking The Field
After a turn (2 players, 4 karttus), the referee checks up the field, announces removed kyykkäs
and rights pappis (the kyykkäs left on the outer borders of the field). Karttus left inside
the square can be removed with the referee’s approval. After checking the field, the referee
allows the other team to start their turn.
8.2.5. Game Progress
Teams continue their turns until a half has been played i.e. each player has thrown a total of
4 karttus or both teams have played 4 turns. In Academic Kyykkä each player of a team must
throw once (2 karttus) before any player of the team can throw again. The team must keep
their throwing order during a half.
After a half, the referee counts the teams’ points and writes them down. When the referee is
ready, he or she announces the half ready and allows the players to set the field up for the
second half. For the second half the teams change sides and the starting turn moves over
to the team that played second during the first half. The teams can change their throwing
orders between halves.
After the second half, the referee sums up the teams’ scores from both halves and declares the
team with the least negative points the winner.
9. SPECIAL CASES
9.1. Player provocation
In World Championships of Academic Kyykkä, verbal, game-related provocation of a player is
allowed to a sensible extent from both teams. This excludes all inappropriate, personal and
9.2. Foul Step
When throwing, a player is not allowed to cross the line behind which he or she is throwing. In
case the player’s feet cross the line, the referee returns all kyykkäs removed by the throw to the
front line of the playing square, starting from the centre. Kyykkäs rolled to the square behind
the front line are left where they stopped. The player cannot throw again.
9.3. Running Start
Players are allowed to speed up their throw by taking a running start behind the field, as long
as they do not touch the opponent’s kyykkäs.
Redundant lingering and procrastination during a turn is forbidden. If the team deliberately
slows down the game by lingering and does not react to a warning from the referee, the referee
can give the team a time in which the team must throw their remaining karttus. The time
limit is 30 seconds per karttu.
9.5. Broken Kyykkä
If a karttu, thrown by a player, scatters a kyykkä into two or more pieces, the position of the
largest piece is considered the kyykkä’s position after the throw. The biggest piece is replaced
with a new kyykkä while the rest of the pieces are removed from the field. In case the pieces
are exactly the same size and one piece is out, the kyykkä is considered out. If both same-sized
pieces are inside the playing square, the player can decide which piece is replaced and which
removed from the game.
9.6. Moving Kyykkäs During A Game
The players are not allowed to move the opponent’s kyykkäs in the field. If a player kicks or
otherwise moves any of the kyykkäs in his own team’s throwing square, the referee will give
them a warning. After two warnings the referee can order the player to throw the rest of their
karttus from behind the field.
If a player deliberately or accidentally moves the opponent’s kyykkäs out of the square, the
removed kyykkäs will be considered out. If the opponent’s kyykkäs moved by the player stay
in the square or bounce to the area between the squares, the referee places them back to
their original places.
9.7. Arriving Late
If a team arrives late to their game, the referee can order the teams to play a half-game to
catch up on the timetable. A half-game is described in section 9.8.
If a team is not present in its entirety at the field 10 minutes past the start of a scheduled game,
the tournament referee can declare the other team the winner of the game.
A half-game, different from a half of a game, is played like a normal-length game with only a
half of a normal-length game’s throwing turns. Thus, both teams are allowed only two turns
per half, making it a total of 2 karttus per player per half. Just like in a normal game, in a halfgame
the teams’ scores are calculated and sides are changed between halves.
9.9. Tie In Play-Offs
A tie in the play-off rounds will result in a short replay. In a short replay four pairs of kyykkäs
are placed on one of the front lines evenly spaced, leaving 1 metre of space on both sides
of each pair.
The teams throw from the same throwing square, one team at a time. The first team to throw
is the one who started the original game.
Each player throws exactly one karttu. The team may decide on the throwing order freely.
The team’s score is calculated normally as described in section 10.1.
After the first team has finished throwing and received their score, the field is set up again
for the other team.
The winner is the team with a better score.
9.10. Complaints In A Game
If a team detects a foul in their opponent’s throw or other actions, they must report it immediately
to the referee. The referee will then act as necessary to resolve the situation, allowing
the game to continue when all is clear. The team’s right to complain expires immediately when
a karttu is thrown after the presumed foul.
10. GAME SCORES AND WINNING
10.1. Game Scoring
A kyykkä left in the playing square or on the front line, i.e. akka: -2
A kyykkä between the squares, i.e. kuokkavieras: -2
A kyykkä on the outer borders of the playing square, i.e. pappi: -1
An unused karttu: +1
10.2. Group Scoring
A team receives 2 group points for a win, 1 group point for a tie and 0 points for a loss.
10.3. Group Winner
The team with the most group points wins the group.
If two or more teams are tied at the same group points, the group winner is the team who has
more group points from games against the tied teams.
If the group points from the games between the tied teams are still even, the group winner is
the team with the best overall score from games against the tied teams.
If the overall scores from the games between the tied teams are still even, the group winner is
the team with better overall score from all of the team’s games.
If the tied teams have the same overall score, the winning team will be resolved by lot.