from the blog.

A single conker on a string ready for battle!

How Do I Play Conkers?

It’s October now, and that means that the conkers are flourishing up and down the country. This is a game that took up all of my lunchtimes at primary school, and quite a lot of my time after school too with prepping my laces, finding the right conkers to lead me to victory and soaking them in vinegar to harden them up!

Hopefully, this has gotten your nostalgic juices flowing, and you want to play again. If you’ve got younger children who need to learn this age-old game then this little guide can help! So, in case you’ve forgotten, or need a refresher course on how to play then you can get up to speed right now…

How to play conkers

A collection of conkers on a string ready for battle!

  • You can’t play by yourself, so it’s one on one, requiring two players. Each player has a conker threaded on a shoelace or a piece of string, who take it in turns to hit each other’s conker until there is only one conker left intact on the string/shoelace.
  • The first player needs to hold out their conker at arm’s length, leaving the conker hanging down, in anticipation to be hit. Make sure you wrap the string/shoelace around your hand so that you don’t drop it when it’s hit.
  • Keep your conker still for when the other player hits it; no one likes a cheater! And if it accidentally swings, the second player is allowed to steady it before they take their shot.
  • It’s then time for the second player to take their shot. They must wrap the string/shoelace around their hand, draw it back, take aim and hit their opponent’s conker as hard as possible.
  • The ‘attacker’ has to let go of the conker in an arc-style swing.
  • Players then change roles from attacker to defender, and vice-versa.

*If the defender moves their conker on purpose prior to it being hit, the attacker is granted another chance at a hit. Keep it clean, folks!


Take it one level further and try conker scoring!

handicraft work with chestnut conkers

If you love the competitiveness and want to take things to a more professional level, then you’ll want to know how the scoring system works in a game of conkers. So here we go…

  • If a conker hasn’t ever been used before and is triumphant in breaking another unused conker, then it scores one point and becomes what is known as a ‘one-er’.
  • If you use the same conker in the next game and succeed in breaking another new conker, it becomes a ‘two-er’. This goes on as long as the conker is victorious.
  • Take note though, because if this two-er loses a game and becomes broken, then its score is transferred over to the other person’s conker. So, if they have used a new conker on a two-er, it becomes a three-er, etc.
  • And finally, if the conker that broke it had previously broken other conkers in previous matches, then the scores of both conkers are put together and added to the winner’s score. For example, if you were playing with a five-er versus a three-er, then the score awarded to the winning conker will be eight.

We hope this clears things up and remember, play fair, play nice, but most importantly, have fun!



Image: Kevin Doncaster, David Davies and Markus Spiske under Creative Commons.

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