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How to play conkers

Looking for a free outdoor activity this Autumn? We've got you covered. Conkers is a traditional British game played with horse chestnuts, and it's typically enjoyed during the autumn months when chestnuts are readily available. Find out how to play below.

Materials Needed:

  1. Two horse chestnuts (conkers) – each player needs one.

  2. A length of string (about 25-30 cm or 10-12 inches).

  3. A small hand drill or a sharp tool to make a hole in the chestnuts.

  4. Optional: Safety goggles to protect your eyes during play.


1. Prepare the Conkers:

  • Select two horse chestnuts of similar size and hardness.

  • Make a hole through the centre of each chestnut using a small hand drill or a sharp tool. The hole should be large enough to thread the string through.

2. Stringing the Conkers:

  • Thread the string through the hole in one of the conkers, tying a knot at the end to secure it.

  • Repeat the process for the other conker, ensuring the lengths of string are roughly the same.

3. Decide Who Goes First

  • Players can decide who goes first through a simple coin toss or another agreed-upon method.

4. The Game Begins

  • The player who goes first holds their conker by the end of the string, allowing the conker to dangle freely.

  • The other player holds their conker in a stationary position, typically with the string wound around their hand or fingers.

5. Swinging the Conker

  • The player with the dangling conker swings it towards the other player's stationary conker, attempting to strike it.

  • The player with the stationary conker must keep it steady and allow the other player to strike it.

6. Striking Rules

  • Each player takes turns trying to strike their opponent's conker.

  • Players must aim to hit the opponent's conker in a way that causes the most damage.

  • If the swinging conker misses, the player's turn is over.

  • If the swinging conker hits, it counts as one "point."

7. Scoring and Winning

  • Players keep track of the number of points they earn with successful hits.

  • The game continues until one conker is completely destroyed (breaks) or until a predetermined number of points are scored.

  • The player whose conker is still intact or has the most points wins

Safety Tips:

  • To prevent injury, you might decide that players should wear safety goggles while playing, as chestnuts can shatter during the game.

  • Be cautious when swinging the conker to avoid hitting your opponent's hand or fingers.

Conkers is a simple yet entertaining game that combines skill and strategy. The more you play, the better you'll become at aiming and striking your opponent's conker effectively. Enjoy the game and have fun!


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