Step 1: The Conker

The "conker" is the fruit of the horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum).  Not actually a chestnut (conkers are, in fact, slightly toxic), it has been an important commercial tree, with uses as broad as raw materials for explosives to providing deep shade to keep beer-gardens cool enough to make winter ice last longer.

The conker got its name from the game, rather than the other way round - before the horse-chestnut was introduced to Britain, the game was played with acorns or snail-shells (the word conker actually means "hard", and comes from the same root as the French conque, meaning "conch (shell)").

<p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/I3T-3nYt3ec" width="500"></iframe></p><p>Great fun film.</p>
Wow. I need to... <br> <br>-Finish High school <br>-Go to college <br>-Marry someone <br>-move to England and have kids who will play conkers and have British accents. <br>-Move back to the U.S and spread the love <br> <br>Thanks for writing this- ive heard the term conkers before (usually on top gear), and never really knew what it meant. <br> <br>Never actually did this or many other games as a child. Mostly due to being homeschooled. I got quite good at &quot;slapjack&quot; and spoons though :D
<p>lol top gear is where i first heard it to XD</p>
Oh, I actually went to Europe last year and picked up a few horse chestnuts... I think I still have them (dont tell customs!). Hehe.
In Ohio, these are known as buckeyes. We used to create something similar!
<p>yeah same in Illinois</p>
this was cool I was just looking through when I found your conkers how too its funny but my boys were watching a childrens show &quot;charlie and lola&quot; and they mentioned the game conkers and I was curious as to how it was played thanks again
You're welcome! <br>
Can these be found in australia
If they are, they will be in temperate zones, and will have been deliberately planted by settlers.<br> <br> See <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_chestnut">wikipedia</a>.
A great instructable about perhaps one of my favourite games of all time! Five stars for you!
I have read that they are poisonous not just slighly toxic.
&quot;Poisonous&quot; implies fatality.<br /> <br /> The skin of the nut contains toxins that cause vomiting, but the peeled nut used to be boiled, dried and ground into a flour.<br />
<em>aesculus hippocastanum</em> several similar species,<em>Aesculus </em>and other buckeyes like the sweet buckeye <em>a.octandra </em>are all poisonus. all parts of the plant and nut contain a dangerous glycoside. nuts should not be eaten even after thorough soaking.<br /> <br /> look for: Peterson field guides<br /> Edible Wild Plants<br /> eastern/central north america<br /> by Lee Allen Peterson <br /> <br /> a pretty usefull guide to have handy if you like those types of things but thats where i get the reason to belive they are poisonus. i got a copy at a borders book store for around $20.00.
I'll take your word for it.<br /> <br /> They still used to eat the flour over here, though.<br />
really? thats interesting what country are you from?
The UK.&nbsp; I think the flour thing is <em>old</em>, though - medieval, even.<br /> <br /> We used to make coffee out of acorns as well, but that was down to WWII shortages.<br />
cool, can also make coffee from dryed dandylion roots, fritters from the unopen buds and salad from unsprayed leaves :D<br /> <br /> hmm im not shure if the book i mentioned earlyer is avalable in the UK or not i but still consider looking for it.
I've tried dandelion coffee - it is <em>foul!</em><br />
eewwwouuuhh ill skip it then.
i know this is an old comment but it just kinda came to me.... <br> <br>one: i live in the U.S. and you live in the UK, so it is possible that the &quot;horse chestnut&quot; could be two different things. to me i know it as poison but to you it COULD be perfectly safe. <br> <br>two: DANDYBLEND IS HORRIFIC (dandylion coffee) <br> <br>-that is all.
I'm English, and have grown up in a small town in the north of England. <br>I can remember my grandmother teaching me all these things when I was really little :) great game- still haven't grown out of it lol!!
Huh, we never had a version of this in the US. Strange how one culture that evolved from the other can still be so different, even in the games their kids play on the playground. *Sips iced tea looking contemplative*<br /> <br /> Nice instructable by the way!<br />
Thank you.<br /> <br /> What games did you play?&nbsp; <br />
I think I remember playing marbles, but to be honest, the games we played were a lot less organized than this (hey guys, whoever can run to the other side of the playground the fastest <em>doesn't </em>get punched in the face!)<br /> <br /> I'm kidding, of course. Nobody ever got punched in the face :).<br /> <br /> (We were some pretty creative kids)<br /> <br /> <br /> -Y<br />
You never played the classic game of &quot;If you run faster than I&nbsp;throw this rock I won't hit you with it&quot;? I&nbsp;belive I shall write an ible' about it. Victory will be mine!
Ah, classic fun for all the ages ;)...<br />
What a fantastic instructable Kiteman! It really brought back a lot of memories of being an expat kid in London, down to the errant shouting/shoving matches.<br /> <br /> In America, there isn't really an equivalent, given the lack of quality conkers lying about. The closest game in spirit would be pencil fighting, in which the defender holds his pencil between thumb and forefinger in both hands and the attacker flicks their pencil in an attempt to break the defending pencil in two - which was really just an excuse to not do homework.<br />
I've never heard of pencil fighting, but that sounds like something I would do as a kid :).<br /> <br /> Maybe that should be an 'ible.<br /> <br /> -Y<br />
Sure, we had it in Rhode Island.&nbsp; We played it at the bus stop so it didn't matter whether the school banned it.&nbsp; My knuckles are getting a chill as I think about it.&nbsp; Our variation on &quot;one-ers, two-ers, etc.&quot; was that a ten-er was a &quot;kinger&quot;.&nbsp; <br />
&nbsp;i used to play conkers with my uncle a lot as he had a chestnut tree out his back door, great way to pass the time. Conkers also got banned at my primary school many years ago as too many kids were getting bloody knuckles and broken fingers lol.
we all ways played bloody nuckles.one person would spin a quarter,if the other person stops it standing up they get to spin but if it falls when they try to stop it they get the quarter slammed into there nuckles
OMG! I used to play this when i lived in Hamilton, Ontario. I thought we made that odd game up. Awesome to see it here!
if u say its kind of a explosive but in a plant or tree usually are friendly but if this has raw explosives then u should of put this on becuase terrorist will put this stuff in their c4
No, conkers do not contain explosives, but they can be made into explosives.<br /> <br /> C4 by itself is far more destructive.
Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha<br /> <br /> Step number 4 on our tour of Instructables: our esteemed British friend explaining to a numpty that C4 is a more powerful explosive than conkers.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> No, it's not all that unusual, why do you ask?<br /> <br /> Right, next up we have a real cultural experience - a duck into the K*nex Ghetto...not even the <strike>police</strike> admins go to this part of town...<br />
<small>In my next project, I will be demonstrating that cutting down horse chestnut trees causes a radical reduction in alcohol-related diseases...</small><br />
In the U.S. these are also called &quot;buckeyes.&quot;
&nbsp;I thought those game pieces looked familiar!
I saw that somewhere - they look like a deer's eyeball, apparently.<br /> <br />
In Puerto Rico we have a similar game called &quot;Gallitos&quot; (fighting cocks).&nbsp; We use the seeds from the Algarrobo tree (Hymenaea courbaril).&nbsp; We drill a hole through the flat side and tie a string around it so that the &quot;gallito&quot; lays flat.&nbsp; The defending &quot;gallito&quot; lays on the ground in an approx 6&quot; diameter circle and the attacking one attempts to hit it.&nbsp; All the other basic rules are the same.&nbsp; This is a cool instructable that brought back some childhood memories.&nbsp; It's awesome to see that even in cultures as different as British and Puerto Rican there can be such a similar game. Thanks!
&nbsp;I guess the rules vary greatly depending on where you grow up. In my neck of the woods (Nottingham) the rules were slightly different:<br /> - Players took alternate turns, regardless of whether the last swing was a hit or not.<br /> - &quot;strings&quot; was called &quot;snags&quot; and rather than just deciding whose turn it was the players would tug hard on their string in an attempt to pull their opponents conker off the string (or the string out of their hand), thus facilitating a &quot;stampy&quot; opportunity.<br /> - conker scores were not cumulative. If a &quot;sixer&quot; beat a &quot;niner&quot; it just became a &quot;sevener&quot;!<br /> <br /> But all the same, a great instructable - brings&nbsp;back great childhood memories!<br /> <br />
As I said in step 4;<br /> <blockquote> <div>The rules of the game vary playground-by-playground.&nbsp; These are the rules that I followed decades ago:</div> </blockquote>
<p>Nice to see some one bother to catalogue the games 'everybody knows the rules of' . the problem is that not everybody does know them,&nbsp;It is imporant that someone writes them down before there are so few people who DO know, that you lose half the rules or the finer points. <br /> &nbsp;</p> <p>The call for 'strings' that I knew was 'tangles one, two, three. In Birmingham, both methods of scoring were&nbsp;used, which lead to considerable confusion! Also it was considered bad form to deliberately tangle the string and attempt to pull the other conker off.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> A player had won &nbsp;when there was no conker remaining on his opponent's string, This meant that it was possible for a&nbsp;very damaged conker to win a fight, only to be completely destroyed&nbsp;on it's next hit.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Any treatment such as holding conkers over from one year to the next, baking or pickling was considered legal, but injecting epoxy resin between the shell and kernel was a definite infringement of the rules, as was having an overlarge knot at the bottom of&nbsp;the conker. This was because you could use it to hit your opponent's conker, rather than letting&nbsp;your conker take the impact. <br /> <br /> I&nbsp;had never heard of the 'Stampsies' rule, that would have been regarded as the worst form of cheating imaginable! Likewise 'Scrambles' was new to me.<br /> <br /> There are loads of games I&nbsp;played as a kid that are dying a slow death now, partially due to schools being over cautious with health and safety, and partially due to the rise of&nbsp; computer games, (don't get me wrong I LOVE computer games, I spend far too much time with them), but even when I was young there were games that were slowly dying out, Marbles&nbsp;are still out there, but who knows how to play 'Cat's Cradle' now&nbsp;?</p>
<em>&quot;...but who knows how to play 'Cat's Cradle' now&nbsp;?&quot;</em><br /> <br /> In that case, consider yourself obligated to produce an Instructable!<br />
Hi,<br /> I do not think conkers grow anywhere near me, but I have a whole bin of slightly past there prime hazelnuts, would they work?<br /> Thanks<br />
Worth a try!<br />
I made a few last night, they worked fine!<br /> It wasn't all that fun with 12 inch strings, because there were not many hits, but with 7 inch strings it is way more fun :-)<br /> Thanks<br />

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Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
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