Smash: How to conquer at conkers
by Village England luxury leather hand bags
The annual World Conker Championships have been held in Southwick, near Oundle, Northamptonshire since 1965. But it’s a much older tradition than this, with the first recorded game of conkers reputed to have taken place on the Isle of Wight in 1848. Originally played with snail shells or cobnuts, it was replaced with horse chestnut seeds by the 20th century.
If you don’t know the rules, they are quite simple. The conker is threaded onto a lace, with each player taking turns to strike the others until one gets smashed or destroyed.
Did you know?
- On finding your first conker of the season, you should say: " Oddly oddly onker my first conker". This ensures good luck for the coming season.
- The game of conkers is known as 'Kingers' in some parts of the world.
- A conker is the seed of the horse chestnut tree (not the sweet chestnut tree where we get edible chestnuts from).
- Britain is believed to be the only country in the world where the game of conkers is traditionally played with horse chestnuts in the autumn.
- Horse chestnut conkers, unlike many other kinds of chestnut seed, are unfit for human consumption but can be eaten by deer, cattle and not surprisingly, horses.
- The origin of the name 'conker' is unclear, but one popular explanation is that it derives from the French word cogner, meaning to ‘hit’ or ‘biff’.
How to prepare your conker for playing
The best conkers to play with are uncracked, firm and symmetrical. Make a hole through the middle of of your chosen conker. Thread a strong piece of string about 25cm long, through the hole and tie a knot at one end, so that it doesn't pull through.
If you are the one whose conker is to be hit first, let it hang down from the string which is wrapped round your hand. The conker is held at the height your opponent chooses and is held perfectly still.
Your opponent, the striker, wraps his conker string round his hand just like yours and takes his conker in the other hand, drawing it back for the strike.
If a player hits his/her opponent’s conker in such a way that it completes a whole circle after being hit - known as ‘round the world’ – the player gets another go.
If a player drops his conker, or it is knocked out of his hand the other player can shout 'stamps' and jump on it; but should its owner first cry 'no stamps' then the conker remains intact.
The game goes on until one or other of the two conkers is completely destroyed.
How to make your conkers harder
You could try one of the following (although technically it is considered cheating):
- Soak your conker in vinegar.
- Bake your conker in the oven.
- Use an old conker from previous years.
Roald Dahl was a big conker fan, who said:
“...a great conker is one that has been stored in a dry place for at least a year. This matures it and makes it rock hard and therefore formidable.”