As a child the end of summer and the start of autumn was always marked by the endless foraging for conkers. All the children in our community knew where to find the best Horse Chestnut trees and there were many legendary tales about which trees produced the best conkers.
September and October days and evenings were always spent playing 'conkers' with everybody trying to have the champion conker of the season.
However, it's rare that we see this game being played anymore....so we wanted to share a 'how to' and bring this classic game back into the lives of children.
Aim of the Game
The aim of the game is to remove your opponents conker from its string by striking it with your own conker.
1- Participants arrive at the game with their conker threaded on a string, there are no special rules about how this is done, however the conker must hang freely from the string and mustn't be wrapped in string.
2- The conker with the largest value goes first in a new match- (if both conkers are brand new and have never played before it is a 'clean game'. Every time a conker wins it accumulates the number of wins of the conker it beats, this score determines the 'value' of the conker. For example if my new conker wins a game against somebody who has won three games then my conker becomes a 'fourer'. If I then play somebody who has won 6 games (a sixer) and win, my conker becomes a 'tenner'. This scoring system encourages players to seek out those carrying conkers of large value.)
3- On their 'go' the player attempts to strike their opponents conker by swinging their conker at the other. The opponent must hold their conker still. Any attempt to move the conker will result in a 're-go'.
4- If the strike successfully hits the other conker they continue with another attempt. This continues until they miss then the non striker has their turn.
There are some times when this isn't the case:
5- If the striker only slightly hits their opponents conker it is called 'tipsy's' and whoever calls out 'TIPSY'S' first has the next strike.
6- If the striker tangles strings with their strike this is called 'stringy's'- whoever calls 'STRINGSYS' first has the next strike.
7- Players continue to strike until one conker is entirely smashed and free of its string. The player with their conker remaining on its string is the winner and they add the value of their opponents conker to theirs.
Is hardening conkers allowed?
There has always been some controversy about the 'hardening of conkers'. We believe that conkers can be hardened only if no substance is added to the conker. For example:
If you cover you conker in varnish this would not be allowed and your conker would be disqualified.
If you place your conkers in the oven to harden this would be allowed.
Our number one tip for hardening
Many people claim that soaking your conkers in vinegar is the best way to harden them, we disagree. The best way to harden your conker takes some foresight, planning and patience. If you have collected some conkers this year pierce holes in them and then lay them out on a tray to dry or string them and hang them in a cupboard. Put them somewhere cool to dry out, if you put them in a hot place they will mould. Forget about them until next August, by then they will be like solid rock and near unbeatable in the coming conker season.