Monday, November 13, 2006

Conkers Jeopardized

Fear of litigation is threatening the hallowed British game of conkers which, although not as exciting as ferret-legging, does have its appeal:

Conkers has been around for 200 years. It evolved from a game called "conquerors," originally played with snail shells dangling from string. By the 20th century, the horse-chestnut version had come into play. Today, the game remains as common among British school kids as marbles once was among their American counterparts. In the autumn horse-chestnut season, British playgrounds ring with the sound of conkers clacking and being stamped.

It's a fight to the death - of the conker. Having picked your conker, you bore a hole in it with a skewer or screwdriver, thread a shoelace through, then tie a knot at the end to hold the nut in place. Then battle begins. It's a clash between two players. Each takes a turn bashing the other's conker with his own. One player lets his conker dangle; the other wraps his own shoelace around one hand, pulls his conker back with the other hand, and then - bam! - takes fire at his opponent's conker. This continues until one conker has been smashed.

If your conker is knocked from its shoelace your opponent can yell "Stampsy!" - an invitation to spectators to stamp your conker into the earth. If shoelaces become entangled, someone usually screams "Tugsy!"- giving rise to a ruthless tug of war to see who can yank his opponent's conker from its lace.

Read the entire Christian Science Monitor article here.

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