As we approach in to the Autumn months it can only mean one thing! It's time to play Conkers.
Conkers is a traditional children's game in Britain and Ireland played using the seeds of Horse Chestnut trees—the name 'conker' is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself.
The game of conkers is said to have evolved from a game called ‘conquerors’, which was originally played with snail (conch) shells. A variant of the game was later played with hazelnuts, on strings. By the 20th century these earlier games had almost universally been replaced by the version we now know using horse chestnuts. There are, of course, many regional variations in the rules of the game and it has also been known by different names.
How to make the perfect Conker to play.
The hardest conkers usually win. Hardening conkers is often done by keeping them for a year (aged conkers are called laggies in many areas or seasoners in Ireland and Liverpool), baking them briefly, soaking or boiling in vinegar, or painting with clear nail varnish. Such hardening is, however, usually regarded as cheating.
Drill a hole through the centre of the conker and thread a piece of string (of about 30cm in length) tying a knot in the end to secure the string.
The game is played by two players. Tossing a coin they decide who will go first. One player lets the conker dangle on the full length of the string while the other player swings their conker and hits. They take turns striking each other's conker until one breaks.
There are many Conker Championships held across the UK. The biggest one is the World Conker Championships in Northamptonshire held on the second Sunday in October every year. It has been running since 1965. Visit their website for more information.