As the seasons change and trees start shedding their leaves so does the interest in conkers, and how else to start autumn season off with the return of the World Conker Championships.
Having been abandoned for two years due to the COVID 19 outbreak, the Northampton village of Southwick became home to professional conkering over the weekend, as laces and horse chestnuts combined to take the schoolyard game into the competitive leagues.
Though the rules are similar to those adopted in the playground (players are allowed three shots and then the players swap roles), the official rulebook from WCC organisers also includes standing lengths, equipment allowed and what constitutes a smashed conker.
The 2022 World Conker Championship was won by Fee Aylmore in the women’s division, who had been trying to win for 32 years and Canadian Randy Topolinski in the men’s division.
What are the rules in a conker championship?
You may have found the ideal conker to begin your professional conker career but unfortunately, official rules won’t allow your Excalibur to compete.
According to the official rules from the World Conker Championship, players will be allocated a lace and a conker from officials to avoid conker tampering - such as allowing a conker to soak in vinegar to harden, an old trick of the trade.
To avoid any strikes to the body, the WCC adhered to a minimum distance of no less than 8” (20cm) of lace between knuckle and nut for both striking and receiving players. Athletes must hold their conker at the height the opponent chooses - and keep it perfectly still
The age-old argument of when a game of conkers is over has also been addressed by the World Conker Championships - they state that a game will be decided once one of the conkers is smashed. A small piece of nut or skin (a third or less) remaining shall be judged out; it must be enough to mount an attack.
There are also rules regarding if a conker is knocked out of its lace but sustained no damage and what can lead to a disqualification in a game of conkers, all of which provided by the organisation behind the event.
Where can I enter the World Conker Championships in 2023?
Players are now able to register their interest in competing in the 2023 World Conker Championships, once again being held at Shuckburgh Arms, Southwick.
Registration to compete costs £12.50, and teams of three to four conker players can register for the team competition.
Children aged 15 or younger cannot enter the main World Conker Championships. Instead, the World Conker Championship runs a separate junior competition where prior registration isn’t needed and kids can simply turn up and play on the day.