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How to play conkers 1st December 2014

We all think we know how to play conkers but here are the official rules to stop any heated discussions on the battlefield...

You will need:

  • Some big round shiny conkers
  • Some 50cm lengths of string
  • A skewer

1. Choose a nice big round shiny conker and then bore a hole through the middle of it with a skewer without boring a hole through your hand.

2. Tie a knot in a piece of string and thread it through the hole in the conker. The string should be long enough to wrap twice around your clenched hand and still have about 25 cm left.

3. A toss of the coin usually decides who starts first - but in the playground this is more often a matter of whoever shouts 'Obli, obli oh, my first go.'

4. Players take turns at hitting their opponent's conker. 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. You must hold it at the height your opponent chooses and you must hold it perfectly still.

5. The striker, wraps their conker string round his hand. He then takes the conker in the other hand and draws it back for the strike. Releasing the conker he swings it down by the string held in the other hand and tries to hit his opponent’s conker with it. If he misses he is allowed up to two further goes.

6. Players take alternate hits at their opponent's conker.

7. If the strings tangle, the first player to call ‘strings’ or ‘snags’ gets an extra shot.

8. If a player drops his conker or it is knocked from his hand, the other player can shout ‘stamps’ and immediately stamps on the conker; but should its owner first shout ‘no stamps’ then ‘stamps’ is disallowed.

9. The game is won when one player makes the other players conker break and fall off the string.

Extra fun stuff to know about conkers...

In tournaments a winning conker can go on to do battle with other conkers, each victory adding to the conker’s score. A conker which has won one battle is called a ‘oneer’, two battles a ‘twoer’ and so on. You might overhear someone saying ‘I beat his fiver with my twoer’. In this case the winning twoer becomes an eighter (two previous victories plus this win and the five victories of the fiver).

Methods have been handed down from generation to generation of hardening conkers before battling (but you might be considered a bad sport and would certainly get thrown out of the World Conker Championships): - soaking or boiling the conkers in vinegar or salt water - soaking in paraffin - partially baking them for about a half hour in the oven to case-harden them - coating them with clear nail-varnish - filling them with glue - storing them in the dark for a year (old shrivelled ones seem tougher than young shiny ones)

The two-times World Conker Champion Charlie Bray was heard to say ‘There are many underhanded ways of making your conker harder. The best is to pass it through a pig. The conker will harden by soaking in its stomach juices. Then you search through the pig’s waste to find the conker.’ Good luck with that method!

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