As the world isolates itself to beat the COVID-19 virus, The Conker Federation have rushed through a ruling to recognise an old version of the game that can be played in the home all year round. The resurrection of the game which was originally played in the 19th century, has been dubbed ‘The Gentleman’s Game’ as it appears to have been loosely based on a dual.
The rules of a dual state that it is ‘An engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules.’ Duels were fought not so much to kill the opponent as to gain "satisfaction", that is, to restore one's honour by demonstrating a willingness to risk something substantial for it. Although historically duals were fought with swords, and more recently with pistols, it is thought that conkers were introduced as a non-lethal method to settle disputes.
So how do you play ‘The Gentleman’s Game’?
The person with the most seniority, this can either be age, rank or social standing strikes first. The competitors stand back to back, they then walk five steps before turning around and walking four back. Then then shake hands and wish each other luck. The holder then holds out their conker at arm's length, hanging down, ready to be hit. In turn, each player takes one strikes at the opponent's conker. The match is over when one of the conkers is ‘de-stringed’, If both nuts are de-stringed at the same time, the bout is drawn. Both played shake hands and say 'Ruddy good show'. If a game lasts for more than 3 minutes then the game is drawn. No matter how the match ends, the game is concluded by players retiring for a gin and tonic (Whilst tonic is interchangeable, the gin must be 'Conker Gin' www.conkerspirit.co.uk).
Another advantage of ‘The Gentleman’s Game’, is that participants are required to provide their own conkers. This opens up a new market for the sale or trade of aged conkers, whilst nut tampering would not be expected from gentlemen and gentlewomen, there is nothing wrong with nuts naturally growing old.
Conker Cup is supporting this initiative and is offering emergency conker kits to families in need. Each kit contains two six-month aged conkers, emergency swing string and free postage. To get your hands on a kit please email firstname.lastname@example.org.