Conquer at conkers
St John Burkett, organiser for the World Conker Championships, swings his best, vinegar-hardened tips
at our favourite past-time… 1/ Anyone can win a conker match with the right nut, but there’s still a technique to the game. In the World Championships, conkers are drawn blind from a bag. 2/ Start by working on accuracy. The best players set up a practice rig and store a supply of conkers in the freezer so they can practice all year. You can use an old squash ball if
you’re out of conkers. 3/ Sweat your technique. Favourites include the Southwick Sidewinder, where the conker is hit from the side with power; the Barnwell Bomb – a downward swipe with as much force as you can give it – and the Oundle Chop, where you try to chip
away at your opponent’s conker with little taps. 4/ You have just five minutes to knock your foe’s battle chestnut from its string, and can be disqualified for not trying to hit his brown fruit – for example, if yours has a crack in it. 5/ After that, the game moves to a “penalty shootout”: three rounds of three shots with the winner being the one who makes most contacts with their rival’s sacred orb – this is
where the great players show they are truly nerveless.