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Bonkers for Conkers

13 Oct 2021

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October and it’s official conkers season! Did you know that there is a World Conkers Championships which is held in Southwick, Peterborough?

Set within the picturesque county of Northamptonshire, the World Conker Championships takes place each year in the beautiful village of Southwick near Oundle. Hosted in the grounds of the local pub, the Shuckburgh Arms, and supported by the villagers.

Thousands flock to the event to watch the competitors battle and to support our cause to raise money to help the visually impaired. As this is a 'world' championship, people come from across the globe to join the experience.

Organised by Ashton Conker Club, the competition has taken place since 1965. Through the years, it has allowed them to successfully raise a large sum for charity. The grand total currently sits at around £420,000.

What are the origins of the game of conkers?

There are references in Robert Southeys memoirs published in 1821 to early games similar to Conkers being played with Snail Shells or Hazelnuts, but the first recorded game using Horse Chestnuts is in 1848 on the Isle of Wight. The game spread gradually throughout Britain during the next hundred years.

It is reported that the Horse Chestnut tree was only introduced into England from the Continent in the late 1500's, so perhaps the raw materials were lacking until the tree spread further across the country.

Official Conkers Rules!

1) The game will commence with a toss of a coin. The winner of the toss may elect to strike or receive.
2) A distance of no less than 8 inches or 20cm of lace must be between knuckle and nut.
In turn, each player takes 3 strikes at the opponent's conker.
3) Each attempted strike must be clearly aimed at the nut, with no deliberate misses.
The game will be decided once one of the conkers is smashed.

4) If any conker remains on the lace, it will be judged play-worthy or not, by the stewards.
5) If both nuts smash at the same time then the match shall be replayed. Any nut being knocked from the lace but not smashing may be re-threaded and the game continued.

6) A player causing a knotting of the laces (a snag) will be noted. 3 snags will lead to disqualification.

7) If a game lasts for more than 5 minutes, each player will take up to 9 further strikes at their opponent's nut, alternating with 3 strikes each. If neither conker has been smashed at the end of the 9 strikes, then the player who strikes the nut the most times during this period will be judged the winner.

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