Activity/Craft,  Family

What To Do With Conkers: A Classic Game of Friendship & Fierceness

Whenever we’ve been out and about as a family and collected some, we’re usually left wondering about what to do with conkers! Well, when it comes to classic playground games, Conkers is a timeless gem that has brought joy and competition to generations of children and adults alike. A perfect blend of tradition, skill, and camaraderie, this centuries-old game has a unique place in our hearts…plus it’s super fun! 

A Nutty Beginning: The History of Conkers

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of figuring out what to do with conkers, or the art of playing Conkers, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and learn about the game’s history. Conkers is believed to have originated in the British Isles, with the earliest recorded game taking place in the 1840s. The name “conkers” itself is derived from the French word “conque,” meaning a shell or a conch, which is the hard outer casing of a horse chestnut. Horse chestnuts have been used as a playing piece in the game for centuries, and their toughness and durability make them perfect for the purpose.

Over time, Conkers became a popular pastime for British schoolchildren, along with several other games that were devised by individuals wondering what to do with conkers each year. The game even survived the turbulence of two world wars and continued to entertain and unite people of all ages. In fact, The Conkers World Championships is an annual event held in Northamptonshire, England, and has been celebrating the game for over 50 years. 

But enough of history; let’s get our hands dirty – literally!

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Gearing Up for Conkers

To play Conkers, you’ll need a few things:

  • Two horse chestnuts: These are the stars of the show, the conkers themselves. Be sure to pick firm, well-shaped nuts, free from cracks.
  • Shoelace, string, or a strong cord: You’ll use this to thread through the holes you’ll drill in your conker, creating the perfect weapon for battle.
  • A drill or a screwdriver: To make a hole through the conker, preferably at its widest point.
  • Some sandpaper: To smooth the edges of the hole and ensure the string won’t break or fray during play.
  • A strong arm and a heart full of determination: Most importantly, you need the spirit to conquer (pun intended).

The Rules of Engagement

So you’ve figured out what to do with conkers and you want to play this classic game – but how? Conkers can be played one-on-one or in a tournament style with multiple players. Here’s how a typical one-on-one match unfolds:

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Preparation: Each player takes their chosen conker and drills a hole through the centre. Thread a piece of string or a shoelace through the hole and tie a knot, creating a loop. Make sure your conker is securely fastened to the string.

Toss for the first strike: To determine who goes first, both players hold their conker by the loop and take turns swinging it. The one whose conker hits the other player’s first wins the first strike.

Taking turns: The game proceeds with players taking turns. The player with the first strike holds their conker steady while the other player takes a swing, attempting to hit the hanging conker.

Striking your opponent: If your conker successfully strikes your opponent’s, you get another turn. Keep taking turns until someone’s conker shatters.

Winning: The winner is the last person whose conker remains intact. They are the Conker Champion, basking in glory and bragging rights.

Playing Conkers: Safety First

This classic game is a brilliant solution for those wondering what to do with conkers, however, it’s worth noting that Conkers may not be for the faint-hearted. A word of caution: Conkers can be a bit rough on the knuckles, so it’s advisable to consider padding your hands with a towel while playing. It’s all part of the fun, though!

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Playing Conkers is not just about winning; it’s about sharing laughter, camaraderie, and celebrating a piece of history. So next time you have the chance and want to know what to do with conkers, grab yourself some trusty string and a friend and embark on a journey to become the ultimate Conker Champion. Whether you’re reliving your childhood memories or creating new ones, you’re bound to find that the simple joy of the game never gets old. So, go on, have a swing, and may the mightiest conker win!

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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