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Going nuts over conker shortage

There won't be too many games of conkers played this autumn if the produce from the six chestnut trees in my garden are anything to go by.

Going nuts over conker shortage

There won't be too many games of conkers played this autumn if the produce from the six chestnut trees in my garden are anything to go by.

Usually by this time in September a couple of dozen seeds – the conkers – have dropped from each mother tree.

But so far this year I've picked up one solitary conker (or chestnut if you prefer). Perhaps it was the absence of rain for weeks that killed off the growth.

The first mention of a game played with nuts was in the memoirs of one Robert Southey in 1821, but he insisted it was hazelnuts, not chestnuts that were used.

The first recorded game of conkers using chestnuts was on the Isle of Wight in 1848.

There is uncertainty of the origins of the name. It probably comes from the dialect word conker which means hard nut.

To play the game, a 10-inch shoelace is threaded through a hole cut end to end in the conker with a huge knot at one end to keep it secure.

Two opponents, each armed with a conker, take turns to strike one another's chestnut with their own.

The winner is the player whose conker lasts the longest before crumbling.

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