Conker championship for Suffolk

CONKERS – the very British game that has lost out to Playstations, TV and DVDs – are set to make a comeback as shoelaces are held at the ready at the Suffolk Conker Championships.

CONKERS – the very British game that has lost out to Playstations, TV and DVDs – are set to make a comeback as shoelaces are held at the ready at the Suffolk Conker Championships.

Its time again to re-enter the heady days of childhood and burrow around to find the biggest and best conkers in the county.

Conkers have had a bad press recently with reports of schools banning the time-honoured pastime because headteachers are afraid of being sued by parents in the event of an accident.

Last autumn in Norwich, councillors were considering cutting down horse chestnut trees because of the danger of conkers falling on passersby.

Yet despite all the horror stories, the humble conker can still be fun and the battles in this year's Suffolk championships are ready to commence.

Making sure you even hit the conker can be a tough nut to crack but practice makes perfect.

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Special conker trophies will go to the champion and there is even an award for the fanciest piece of string.

Rules are strict. The string must be exactly eight inches in length – and do not try doing the age old trick of hardening your conker in vinegar or glue as that is against the rules.

Contestants will be paired off to battle it out until the first conker cracks and the competition will be split into age categories from kids to teens and mums and dads.

There's even the chance to make a conker monster if your conker gets smashed early.

The competition is due to take place at Thornham Walks on the Thornham Estate on Monday October 21 from 2pm- 4pm. Thornham Walks is signed off the A140 near Eye.

Parking is free in the coach park and the event will be held on the picnic site. The event costs £2 per entrant.

For further information contact Steve Hammond, Thornham Walks project officer on 01379 788345.

N Tomorrow a charity conker championship is taking place at The Milestone pub in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich. The event, which is organised by the Campaign for Real Ale, will begin at lunchtime.

N The annual 28-year-old conker competition is to take place at The Wheatsheaf Inn in Tattingstone at 7pm today. Proceeds to charity.

CONKERFILES

Conkers used to be played with cobnuts and snail shells, until horse chestnuts or 'conkers' were used.

In the days before conker trees were introduced from America, hazelnuts were also used.

PREPARING YOUR CONKER:

Choose a firm, uncracked conker and bore a hole through the middle using a skewer. (Do not hold it in your hand to do so as you could skewer your hand)

Thread a strong piece of string through and tie a knot at one end. It should be long enough to wrap twice around your clenched hand and still have about eight to ten inches left.

HOW TO PLAY CONKERS:

It is a game for two players – each has a conker on a string.

The first player holds their conker out at arms length ready to be hit, with the string wrapped around their hand.

The other player wraps the string around their hand, holds the conker in the other hand draws it back and takes aim before swinging the conker down in an arc and trying to hit the opponents conker.

It is then the turn of the opponent. The game continues until one of the conkers falls to pieces.

OTHER GAMES THAT HAVE ALL BUT DISAPPEARED:

Hopscotch

Jacks/knucklebones – five pieces of metal on the floor- how many can you pick up in the time it takes to bounce a ball and catch it again.

Shove ha'penny – markers were put down and the halfpenny had to land between two points, hence the name shove ha'penny as players would try and shove the coin into place.

Marbles – pretty coloured glass balls rolled along the floor, if a player hit his opponents, he would win the game and the marble.

WEBLINKS: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/conker/archive/conkers.htm