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[P]
The Joy of Conkers

By The Diary Section in Culture
Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 01:00:29 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Given we are now entering the autumn, it seems timely to present a brief guide to one of my favourite seasonal activities for the last 20 or so years; the exciting game of conkers.

Basic Gameplay
Conkers is a two player game in which each player is equipped with a conker (the fruit of the Common Horsechestnut tree, known to some as a "Buckeye") threaded onto a piece of string. The players take it in turn to take shots at their opponent's conker, until one player's conker is destroyed. Conkers is therefore a brutal game where no quarter is spared and the word mercy is unknown. Yet it is also a noble pursuit; when it is your opponent's turn to take a shot, you must let your conker hang at the end of its string at a height of your opponent's choosing. It must remain as dead still as your nerves will allow. Tempting though it might be to whip your pride and joy away before the moment of impact, it is well recognised that to do so would cast a dark stain on the perceived character of the cheat low enough to try it. It is perhaps no accident therefore that conkers is a sport that originated in the home of chivalry itself, England. That said, I have from time to time found the alleyways and playgrounds in which conkers is traditionally played surprisingly windy places at times.


The technique for taking a shot is somewhat awkward to master at first and rather tough to describe (it puts one in mind of the difficulty of describing spin bowling with mere words), but we shall try, and make the assumption that we are speaking about a right handed player. First, you wrap the string around your right hand until a suitable length for making the strike remains. The exact length is up to the player and will be selected as a function of how good one's aim is and ultimately the degree of force one wishes to impart, but about six or seven inches would seem normal. Second, with the left hand one holds the conker, palm upwards, with the string itself taunt and passing between index and middle finger. Third, one takes careful aim and some may want to visualise the shot. This is also a good time to caution your opponent to hold his conker dead still. Fourth, one swings down his or her conker onto the opponent's conker with as much force as can be mustered from a sort of over-arm flicking motion of the right hand and arm (this action is akin to a fisherman casting out a line). With luck you will have hit and your opponent's conker will already be showing signs of weakening. Miss the shot; you've probably just hit yourself with some degree of force in the crotch with a speeding conker. Stiff upper lip and keep a brave heart, for the game goes on. There is some debate as to whether it is best to aim to inflict incremental amounts of damage and generally wear down your opponent (Ali style perhaps) or whether it's best from the outset to "come out swinging" (but risk missing all together). This difficult judgement call is one that the conker player faces on every turn and there are no easy answers.

Equipment
Your entry into the world of conkers requires two items; a conker and either a short length of string or -- ideally -- a shoelace. Garden twine we can put to one side immediately, we need something a bit stronger than that. The conker itself is of course in essence a hard brown nut that falls off the Common Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) in a spikey outer skin which protects the fruit in its fall to the ground. The sweet variety are of course edible (albeit that they can induce incredible degrees of flatulence), but we are concerned here with the inedible version which we prize for its solidity and hard shell. Procuring a suitable conker is all part of the fun. One might for example attempt to find one on the ground, but real experts much prefer to vigorously throw sticks at "Conkertrees" and see what falls down.

Your next task is to pierce a hole in the conker through which the shoelace can be threaded. Various implements may be used but I've personally had a great deal of success with those small spikes one uses for holding corn-on-the-cob in polite company or alternatively, steel skewers. Anyhow, hole in conker produced, tie a knot at one end of the shoelace and thread the shoelace through the conker. A few fiddly moments later you will be equipped with a fully functional competitive conker. Perhaps it's not as competitive as it could be though...

"The Competitive Edge"
Cheating at conkers is clearly the behaviour of a cad and a bounder, but at the same time one of the great delights of conkers (and probably the most discussed aspect of the game) is thinking up ways to get an edge. Many conker players find this duality difficult to manage at first; by day one is a noble nut-related pugilist fighting honourably until the death, but by night one is forced to become a crazed scientist or worse, as indeed superstition probably plays a greater part than reason for many. Probably the most widely explored technique is attempting to pickle the conker in vinegar. In my view this is a disastrous tactic. Not that I would ever consider playing with an adulterated conker, but often one will find the conker immersed in vinegar to actually lose rather than gain strength and general hardness. Alternatively, one might also try to bake your conker in the oven. Inconclusive. Clearly one can go too far with this, one is not looking to produce a charred husk. But I have come across baked conkers that were indeed impressively hard. In the netherworld between urban myth and the stupid stuff schoolboys can occasionally get up to when an obsession strikes a range of other "treatments" have been devised to enhance the basic conker. These range from the use of polishes and varnishes (said to strengthen the shell and also by smoothing the shell giving your opponent's shot less "grip"), and the strategic use of superglue, to rather fanciful tales of rocks painted to appear like conkers and faux-conkers carved out of a wood with a similar grain.

Whilst not really as much fun as hare-brained scheming, there are two sure-fire ways to get a good conker. First, assuming you have got your hands on a batch of candidate conkers, simply drop them into a bucket of water. The denser (and thus better) conkers will sink to the bottom. Hand out the "floaters" to friends. It's a nice thing to do, and you can also use these lame ducks to quickly build up your score (see below). Second, older drier conkers are often superbly strong. The difficulties here involve having the foresight to store them (and find them again the next year) and also finding somewhere suitable where they will tend towards drying out rather than shrivelling or rotting.

Scoring
One of the best features of conkers is its scoring system. An individual conker (not the player) will over its career go by different numeric titles. The shy debutant conker in its virginity is termed a "none-er". The general formula is that you add your opponent's conker's score to your conker when you win. If our new conker meets another new conker in competition and prevails it becomes a "one-er". Then if our one-er is used and pulls off a coup comparable with the end of Rocky II and smashes a ten-er, it becomes an eleven-er. [Although some may dispute this and claim the formula should be value of conker + value of defeated conker + 1, possibly this is a matter of regional variation]. It is this scoring system that gives a game of conkers a sense of occasion. Bear in mind a game of conkers is effectively a fight to the death, it's a spectacle indeed when, say, a fifty-er is put up against a thirty-eight-er. For this reason it is not uncommon for players to affectionately retire championship conkers in the event they begin to show signs of damage. A conker's score is not formally recorded in anyway, it is an issue of honour. A high-scoring conker with reasonable provenance can occasionally be traded within various informal economies for crisps and comicbooks should you so desire.

Schoolyard rules [The nasty stuff]
If it has not already been made clear, conkers is a tough game requiring grit, determination and the ability to get away with the cheating you would never dream of doing in the first place. Crying will get you nowhere. With these warnings out of the way we can discuss two important rules that you may not find officially noted or discussed in polite company but that are universal in the street level version of the game. The first concerns what happens when the strings twist round each other as will happen now and again. It is not uncommon at this point for both players to attempt to tug on their respective strings to unknot them. Egregiously, some players have been known to do this with something of a snap of the wrist, attempting to inflict a little extra damage on their opponent's conkers weakest point (the hole in the top of the conker). This is perhaps analogous to a boxer throwing an elbow when coming out of a clinch or perhaps a high-knee in a Rugby scrum. Nasty stuff.

An additional rule when the conker strings are tangled is that a shout of "strings" (posh kids) or "tangles" (scum) or regional variation thereof (the Welsh probably make some sort of gagging sound as per usual) gives the first person to make it the next go. Second, there are the rules that cover what happens in the event your conker ends up on the ground. This is a dire situation and speed is of the essence if you are to have any hope at all. A call of "stamps" will give the attacking player the absolute moral right to destroy your conker by stamping on it. This is not pretty, pulp goes everywhere. It's a shitty way to lose an otherwise rock solid high ranking conker. However, if you can get a cry of "no stamps" in first, technically at least your conker is safe. Quick, snatch it back up or even kick it away from your opponent's size 9s if need be. As I've already mentioned, the Autumnal wind can be a real problem when playing conkers and never more so than at times like these when it can be quite deafening.

I mention the dark underbelly of the game here so that you can be streetwise about it. Heaven forbid you should use these techniques yourself. So, beware the player who seems to deliberately miss with some vigour and instead gets the strings tangled. He might be trying to get a few low blows in; he might even be playing for Stamps.

Safety concerns
Conkers is a potentially dangerous game. You could get hit with a speeding conker in any part of your anatomy. Your hands almost certainly will get whacked a few times. For the terminally clumsy a cricket "box" may be a good investment. Your hand might get stamped on rather hard if you are attempting to rescue a conker from stamps. Shards of exploding conker might hit you in the eye. Apparently conkers are poisonous if eaten, to the extent that whilst deer can just about consume them, horses cannot and will not. So, you've been warned. If you feel it necessary, by all means turn up in your "Gridiron" or Ice Hockey outfit and feel safe whilst partaking in your sport. I'll laugh at you for being a pansy though.

Conclusion: The Joy of Conkers
As we have seen then, conkers is the game that has it all, something that creates more than a few paradoxes. The equipment to play it with is universally available and effectively free, yet one can spend weeks, months and even years mulling over ways to improve upon nature itself. Conkers is simple enough in its mechanics, but getting a good, accurate and forceful swing when taking a shot is the work of a lifetime potentially (as it is in golf). Conkers is a game in which both small boys and men are asked to be gentlemen, indeed, female players are asked to be gentlemen as well. Yet conkers is a game rife with cheating, allegations of tampering, and all the possible brutality (stamps, tangles etc.) that can appear in an un-refereed full-contact sport. Whilst on the one hand a banal way to spend an Autumnal afternoon, perhaps conkers is even a metaphor for life, the turn structure invokes the difficult lessons of give and take. I love playing conkers, and I think you should try it as well, it is the true Sport of Kings (and small boys, and everyone in between).

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Poll
The author was right to avoid any smut about conkers being a bit like testicles
o I agree 31%
o I disagree vehemently 17%
o I'm Fen, stop going on about it 12%
o LOL, I get it, William the Conkerer and Henry the Eight-er 39%

Votes: 41
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o conker itself
o Also by The Diary Section


Display: Sort:
The Joy of Conkers | 56 comments (47 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Holy fuck! (3.00 / 3) (#1)
by zenador on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 09:19:52 AM EST

My father is an Englishman.

I remember him teaching me and my brother to play this game when I was young. We had so much fun playing for a couple of days.

+1 FP from me when this hits voting.

In my country (none / 1) (#5)
by Armada on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 11:51:03 AM EST

... we call them Buckeyes. Ironically, I'm noticing the wikipedia entry for Buckeye has absolutely not mention of them.

cheers. i've added it <nt> (none / 0) (#6)
by The Diary Section on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 12:01:53 PM EST


So don't threaten or dictate to us until you're marching up Whitehall! And even then we won't listen.
[ Parent ]

Cheap shot (3.00 / 3) (#7)
by Super Good on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 12:02:59 PM EST

"(the Welsh probably make some sort of gagging sound as per usual)"

This alone deserves a +1 FP when it moves to voting.
Regards, Super
I am astonished. (none / 1) (#8)
by rpresser on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 12:34:56 PM EST

After reaching the end of the article I was dead sure this was all some kind of elaborate joke. Then I read the comments, indicating that this game really exists.  Feh.  Were I not completely out of ammunition, now would be a fine time to obliterate myself with a shotgun.
------------
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
Umm (none / 1) (#9)
by The Diary Section on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 12:36:09 PM EST

it is a real game and this piece isn't entirely of a serious nature.

So don't threaten or dictate to us until you're marching up Whitehall! And even then we won't listen.
[ Parent ]

Whats your address (3.00 / 5) (#25)
by blackpaw on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 12:56:08 AM EST

I'll express courier some ammo immediately

[ Parent ]
excellent (none / 1) (#14)
by livus on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 06:18:59 PM EST

and much better than my local version which involves a special kind of grass.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Grass ? (none / 0) (#37)
by TheMgt on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 02:34:48 PM EST

Did this plant have a sort of black catkin on a long stem ?

[ Parent ]
that's the one. n (none / 0) (#38)
by livus on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 04:16:27 PM EST



---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
WIPO (none / 0) (#16)
by Niha on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 07:53:20 PM EST

 Indeed. It would have been a cheap gag.

Phew. Lucky I avoided mentioning it huh<nt> (none / 0) (#18)
by The Diary Section on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 08:22:50 PM EST


Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
+1FP (none / 0) (#17)
by t1ber on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 08:22:46 PM EST

I liked it.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

Plus One, Gay Sex is Fun! (1.00 / 11) (#19)
by Lemon Juice on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 08:30:52 PM EST



It's Pencil Tap for Nuts! [n/t] (none / 1) (#20)
by BenJackson on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 09:01:41 PM EST



Or as we called it, just plain "Pencils" (none / 0) (#44)
by driph on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 09:16:29 PM EST

No one plays Pencils using an Empire pencil.

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
Related links (3.00 / 3) (#21)
by nuntius on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 09:05:17 PM EST

I found the pictures in these links to be helpful: French Union of Conkers, Woodlands Junior School.

If you start practicing now, you might be able to compete in the World Championship.

Ah typical (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by The Diary Section on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 09:12:55 PM EST

note how "the Man" changes the rules to make conkers less dangerous.

The baseball-style three-strikes rule is interesting but it reduces your options to more like those of serving in tennis (ie. go all out on the first swipe and then if you miss rein yourself in a bit for the next). Its a variation we did used to play sometimes by consent between the two players.

But in general, lets be keeping it real people.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

Chivalry (3.00 / 3) (#24)
by Hung Fu on Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 09:46:16 PM EST

originated in France, not England, in which it was mainly practiced by the Norman (i.e. of French/Scandinavian origin) nobility.

Also, Newton's third law says both player's conkers will absorb equal force from a hit. Doesn't your own conker get damaged from your shots?

__
From Israel To Lebanon

That's where the real technique comes into play. (3.00 / 3) (#28)
by Russell Dovey on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 03:59:38 AM EST

You should be able to hit a weak part of the opponent's conker with a strong part of yours.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

True on both counts (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by The Diary Section on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 08:02:12 AM EST

but why the let the facts get in the way of a nice line?
The weakest part of the conker is on top, where you put the hole in. So when you take your shot, you are trying to impact a point on the top of your opponent's conker with a point on the side of your own, where its strongest. A bit like a headbutt? Truth be told conkers is a bit of a silly game, but its no less fun for that.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Force doesn't matter that much (none / 0) (#45)
by p3d0 on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 01:44:44 AM EST

"Absorbing force" is pretty much a meaningless phrase. I am not a physicist, but I think the important thing is the shock wave, which depends on the pressure rather than the force. The shock wave in the larger conker will dissipate more readily because the same force spreads over a larger area, producing a smaller pressure.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
damnit (2.50 / 2) (#26)
by your_desired_username on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 12:58:44 AM EST

best article in a long while, and I fumbled my vote. Sorry about the -1.

No probs <nt> (none / 0) (#30)
by The Diary Section on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 08:03:37 AM EST


Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Finally I learn about conkers. Thanks! (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by Russell Dovey on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 03:57:19 AM EST

I've always wondered what the hell books like Biggles Goes To School and suchlike were talking about when the subject of conkers was mentioned.

Now I know, my life is complete and I can return to the Source to be formatted and begin again.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

Nice Article... (none / 1) (#31)
by Murkey on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 11:56:56 AM EST

Conkers were quickly banned in my school playground after some people wrapped theirs in sellotape and embedded staples in the layers of tape. A whack by one of those on the hand would probably have resulted in trip to A/E

Sounds nasty (none / 0) (#32)
by The Diary Section on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 12:21:34 PM EST

Less conker, more ersatz-morning star.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Addendum (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by The Diary Section on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 12:27:05 PM EST

Apparently horses do eat horse chestnuts. I base my comments on attempts to get a horse to eat (unvinegarred) conkers in a bit of youthful experimentation. Not only would it not eat them, it had a very mean look in its eye on my third or fourth attempt. You Horse May Vary, but don't eat them yourself anyway.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
What the fuck is this gay ass shit? (1.07 / 13) (#34)
by 0xA736 on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 01:31:00 PM EST

You heard me.

Man...that stings <nt> (none / 1) (#35)
by The Diary Section on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 02:12:39 PM EST


Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
This reminds me of Masaladosa (none / 0) (#36)
by thankyougustad on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 02:32:47 PM EST

Except instead of chestnuts you use your balls, and some suitable object such as an orange.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

Conkers Bad Nut day. (NT) (none / 0) (#39)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 05:03:02 PM EST



Another illusion shattered (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by Tatarigami on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 07:14:36 PM EST

We don't have conkers where I come from, but we do have imported British comics like Buster, Whizzer & Chips, etc.  My mother used to buy 'em for me by the kilo at church sales.

I grew up thinking that conkers was played with a traditional cry of "Ooyah", running away from shopkeepers whose windows you've accidentally broken, and then finishing with a slap-up meal of chip buttes.

Just tell me the knee-length shorts are real and I'll still be able to live with myself.

Very nice! (3.00 / 3) (#41)
by jnana on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 12:24:20 AM EST

Thanks for the article. My family emigrated from England when I was 12, so conker matches are unfortunately very distant memories for me, but your article brings back some wonderful memories. Thanks again...

Brilliant (none / 0) (#42)
by LilDebbie on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 12:36:17 PM EST

A shame I wasn't around to +1FP this.

All we had was quarters. That and the complex economies and faux-warfare we developed in the vacant lots in our neighborhood, but that's neither here nor there.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Variants and other kid's games (none / 1) (#43)
by jd on Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 06:38:49 PM EST

It is said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton - though a game of conkers was probably not what they had in mind.

Having said that, I remember the game well. The trick was to find a conker that was fairly small. Not too small, as then you'd damage it when you punched the hole through to hang the string. But small enough to be absolutely solid inside. Larger conkers had generally started to weaken.

A variant of the game was sticks, where each player had a lolipop stick and would try to smash the other player's stick in half. This tended to be popular during the off-season for conkers, or in schools where conkers was banned.

One running game that was popular when I was a kid was "British Bulldogs". You'd have a person in the middle of the field, and runners on either side. When the tagger called out to start, the runners had to cross the field without being tagged. If they were tagged, they became taggers themselves. This would continue until only one runner was left. This person was the tagger in the next game.

This had one major advantage over many other kid's games - the roles were guaranteed to swap round. This meant the "usual" problem in kids games (someone gets left out) was impossible. If nobody wanted to tag you, then you would be the de-facto tagger in the next game and could get revenge. It all balanced out.

(The school banned it, because we'd play on concrete and there were numerous injuries.)

Another popular kid's game was Fives. If you've ever played the game "squash", then Fives is very similar. You have to smash the ball against a wall, within certain limits, then the other player has to. There are differences, though. Fives is often played against a rough wall, so angles are much harder to judge. No racket - it's played with the hand - so it demands much greater precision. It is also usually played outdoors, so wind, rain, etc, are factors.

Fives tends to be played in smaller schools, as it's impossible to play with more than four people (two on a team) and is more often a two player game. Fives is better-known amongst grammar schools, much less-so amongst the comprehensives.

Cub scouts had an interesting variant of five-a-side soccer - you had to be crouching at all times. Made it harder to kick the ball, run, or indeed do anything much. But it did mean that you had to think more about what you were doing, or you'd end up doing nothing at all.

British Bulldogs (none / 0) (#47)
by DodgyGeezer on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 03:02:08 PM EST

That must be the playing field version of British Bulldogs with the teacher present.  I remember it being much tougher with tackling, not tagging.  An alternative to British Bulldogs was Red Rover, which could result in some arm or hand injuries.  

Then when we got bored of that, we'd play a variation of Murder Ball, although we'd generally ban bollock bashing and nipple knapping.  The goal was to score points by touching a ball to a manhole cover in the park (or something else appropriate) whilst everybody else was trying physically pry it from your grip.  We played it as both a team sport, and individually.

[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 0) (#48)
by The Diary Section on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 03:14:51 PM EST

when we played British Bulldogs it was pretty fierce. Particularly because it was on concrete(!) and was otherwise known as "D to D" (the "D"s being the goal-shooting area or penalty area or whatever its called, marked out on the playground for netball purposes). The most dangerous games I can recall were "raps" (card game, loser gets a pack of cards swung at their knuckles, I still have a couple of scars from that one) and some sort of football game where the loser had to make a run through through a tunnel of kicks and punches (hard to believe now to be honest but it happened...).

In the article I sort of hyperbolise the nature of schoolboy of honour, but I don't recall anyone crying off either of the above penalties, it would have been utterly unthinkable.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

stick in the mud (none / 0) (#51)
by lemony on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 11:02:09 AM EST

was another personal favoyurite... and one which cost me several pairs of trousers through my formative years! It was roughly the same as tag, however once you'd been got by the tagger, you had to stand stock still with your legs apart and the other players would have to try and dive through your legs to free you, without being tagged themselves! Needless to say that diving through people's legs on a tarmac playground was a deeply risky business!

[ Parent ]
Our version (none / 0) (#52)
by livus on Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 05:24:33 AM EST

was called "Bull Rush" and it was banned in schools. It was played on a rugby field, and you more or less had to get people face down in the grass to "tag" them.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Thanks a million for this! (none / 0) (#46)
by ctid on Tue Sep 27, 2005 at 12:44:01 PM EST

I haven't played conkers for about thirty years and somehow I had forgotten completely the thing about "strings". I don't think I ever played a version where "stamps" was allowed. But I do remember swapping something for a year-old ten-er and then trying to make it even harder by soaking it in vinegar and baking it. Needless to say, this treatment didn't help it.
Reality is defined by the maddest person in the room.
Perhaps it was a local custom... (none / 0) (#50)
by lemony on Sat Oct 01, 2005 at 10:57:03 AM EST

but in cumbria where i grew up, we also had a cry of "TIPS!" when the contact between opposing conkers was so slight as to not cause the conker recieving the blow to swing, but still to make a sound... perhaps some sort've snick-omenter is needed for these situations.

[ Parent ]
on the bbc show top gear last year (none / 1) (#49)
by bg ex plus alpha on Wed Sep 28, 2005 at 08:42:01 AM EST

they played it with cranes and caravans. it was kinda cool cos like if i could afford to i'd prefer it that way.

ok bye bye now.

Great article! (none / 0) (#53)
by n0mj121 on Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 05:30:27 AM EST

As a former English grammar school boy (formerly a schoolboy, not formerly English!), this brings back some fantastic memories. The best strategy was always to aim at the string/conker interface; it gives you the best chance of splitting the thing clean in half. It's all about getting leverage against the string, using the enemy's conker to rip itself apart.

After finishing this post, I fully intend to go out and find some conkers. University isn't that different to primary school, really, is it?

Autumn (none / 0) (#54)
by tyagi on Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 09:23:04 PM EST

Given we are now entering the autumn

You might be entering Autumn, but we are just entering Spring here in New Zealand. Damn Northern-hemisphere-centrist.

<ObConker> I'm from the UK and did play a lot when I was at school. Yes, they got banned each year, but only after some plonker smashed the weak kid in the head with his chain of ten rock-hard conkers. </ObConker>



heh, Pluralis majestatis? <nt> (none / 0) (#55)
by The Diary Section on Mon Oct 03, 2005 at 02:58:58 AM EST


Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
I had an eighty-fiver (none / 0) (#56)
by HollyHopDrive on Thu Oct 06, 2005 at 07:07:34 AM EST

and nobody would play me. But that was OK, because I was much too scared by then to play it any more.


I make too much sense to be on the Internet.

The Joy of Conkers | 56 comments (47 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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