Conkers is a traditional British game played by schools children. It used to be popular in the fifties and sixties, but is rarely seen these days. I think that is a shame because it is a form of 'self-made' play, using nature, and is highly entertaining.
Basic gameplay is for two opponents to strike one another's threaded horse chestnuts (known as conkers) until one of them breaks. The winner is the one with the horse chestnut still intact.
There are many ways to improve your chances of winning, but it all comes down to the strength of your conker.
Time: 10 minutes - 1 year, depending on method used.
Materials Horse Chestnuts
Glass of water
Nail strengthener (optional)
The first step is to find the right horse chestnut. During autumn, horse chestnuts will fall from their trees in abundance, so go out and collect as many as you can.
Go out in search of your horse chestnuts
Once you have your collection, it is time to give them a critical eye in order to decide which it best to use. You want one that is big, round, shiny, and undamaged.
These ones are out of shape
These ones are cracked
You then need to perform the sinking test. Some horse chestnuts may look like they will make good conkers, but they might be leading you into a false sense of security. Put your conkers in a glass of water. If they sink, they're good, but if they float, they have lost their density and become full of air, making them weak.
Only the one that sank is any good
Once you have your perfect specimen, there are various ways of making it stronger. The traditional and most honest way is by aging the horse chestnut. As long as you have patience, this is easy. Just store your horse chestnut somewhere safe for a year or so, and it will harden naturally.
If you haven't got any aged horse chestnuts and want to play right away, then there are other methods to speed up the process:
1. Coat your horse chestnut in nail strengthener
2. Soak it in vinegar for about three days
3. Grill it in the oven for two - three minutes
My recommendation would be a combination of two and three, as it makes it easier to thread the string. To do this, tie a string around the end of a corkscrew.
Using the corkscrew, pierce the horse chestnut to make a hole through it.
The string should come out the other end with the corkscrew. Take it off the corkscrew and tie a knot at the bottom to secure it in place.
Find an opponent and take it in turns to whack one another's conkers.