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Conker fights: official rules

Matthew Chatfield
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This seasonal submission from a Ranger’s Blog reader suggests a new historical and literary way to play the traditional game of conkers. All suggestions for variant rules will be considered!

Conkers © Mr_Benn

William Duke of Normandy was quite content in France playing ‘Conkers” with local dignitaries. However in 1065 during a severe storm, his last chestnut tree was struck by lightening and died. It is for this reason that in 1066 he invaded England, as England was reputed to posses the finest Conkers. This is why today William I is also known as William the Conkerer.

  1. First rule is that these are the rules and no other rules can take precedent over what is listed below here.
  2. The owner of the smallest conker always starts.
  3. If the striker hits the hand or any other part of his opponent, the opponent will receive one extra turn (before visiting sick bay)
  4. If a conker is hit with such force that it is sent at least one revolution into orbit around the holders hand, then the first person to shout “Copernicus” will receive an extra go.
  5. If a conker at any time falls to the ground, it can be stamped on until rendered useless by the opponent, however the opponent must first shout either: “Ann Boleyn”, “Catherine Howard” or “Charles the First”. If the conker is saved by its owner then play can resume. If none of the above are declared, then the surviving conker must be handed back to the opponent if he first shouts “Republic!”
  6. If the two conkers become entwined by the strings, then the first person to shout “DNA” will receive an extra go.
  7. If you are the winner of the conker fight, then not only do you receive 1 point/life for winning, but you will also collect all of the previous points/lives that belonged to the defeated conker.
  8. A conker which is worth numerous points/lives cannot transfer its points to any other conker and must not decline any challenge of combat from another opponent.
  9. Any person who destroys a conker in the course of sport must once a year plant another one in a suitable location.
Conkers © Nikki Pugh

Conker Tips and Advice

  • Before striking a conker, always turn it so that you hit the same area every time you strike.
  • If a crack appears on your opponents conker, always aim to hit the cracked area.
  • Watch out for conkers that have been baked in an oven to fortify them.
  • Watch out for conkers that have been pickled in vinegar to fortify them (they have a distinctive smell).
  • Watch out for conkers that have been baked then pickled.
  • Watch out for conkers that have been pickled and then baked for you won’t have a chance!
  • Watch out for conkers which are not actually conkers but are solid lumps of hard wood or metal shaped and painted to look like a conker (apparently the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket made one of these which is why he was later murdered).
  • Watch out for a conker that has a worm or bug already in residence, respect the bug for picking a superior conker before you, and plant it somewhere safe, if a tree grows from this conker it will produce the Mother of all conkers.
  • Watch out for someone who has a conker with a high number of points and yet will not tell you the names of the last people he beat (he is possibly related to Thomas à Becket).
  • Never gamble over the outcome of a conker fight, the gods always wait around for such fools, and will certainly thwart your wish.
  • Don’t worry about losing as there is always another conker waiting to fall from the mother of all conkers. Good Luck!

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

2 thoughts on “Conker fights: official rules

  • I wonder how many times William duke shouted “DNA”


    • Andy M

      It wasn’t Old Bill who shouted DNA, it was Harold at the Battle of Hastings, DNA standing for ‘Do Not Attack’ as the Normans pretended to run away. Of course the Huscarls ignored him, abandoning their impregnable defensive position, and the rest is history.


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