Bonkers for Conkers

It’s now Autumn, and in the UK that can only mean one thing – conkers!

… Conkers? 

Yes! Conkers! Conkers are the nuts of the horse chestnut tree. They look a little bit like chestnuts, but you can’t eat them.

So what do you do with them? 

Every year, children (and adults too) all over Britain collect conkers that have fallen from the trees. They then use them to play a game.

How do you play? 

Well, first you need to drill a hole through the conker and tie a piece of string to it. Like this:

Photo by kennysarmy

Then, two people stand opposite each other and take it in turns to hit their opponent’s conker with their own. They get three strikes, and then it’s the other person’s turn. Players keep going until one of the conkers smashes. If your conker is smashed, you lose!

That sounds… fun?

It is! You probably have to try it first though… Still, many people in the UK love collecting and playing conkers. Children play it at school, or at home with friends. Adults play it too. There’s even an official world conkers championship, with official international rules!

How can I make my conker stronger? 

Many people make their conkers stronger by boiling or soaking them in vinegar, salt water or paraffin. You can also bake them in an oven, or paint them with clear nail varnish. You’re not going to do that though because it would be cheating…

Oh. Oh, OK. Sorry.

No problem. Just remember to have fun! So if you’re ever in the UK in the autumn, why not try playing conkers for yourself?



bonkers (adj) – crazy
opponent (n) – the other person in a game
paraffin (n) – a kind of oil used in cosmetics and medicine
cheat (v) – to do something that the rules of the game say you shouldn’t do