World Conker Championships return for the first time in two years

The event, which has been held annually since 1965, was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

World Conker Championships return for the first time in two years Simon Galloway via SWNS

The World Conker Championships have returned for the first time in two years after being put on hold due to coronavirus.

Organisers picked and graded 4000 horse chestnuts for the day-long contest on Sunday which saw 250 competitors thrash it out – a safe one-metre apart.

The tournament, held annually since 1965, kicked off at 9.30am in the village of Southwick, West Sussex, before coming to a close at 4.30pm, when Jasmine Tetley, 26, was crowned the winner for the second time in a row.

About 2000 enthusiasts flocked from across the globe to watch the competitors battle it out, in a bid to raise money for visually impaired charities.

Jasmine was also part of the first-place team, called ‘We Came, We Saw, Jaz Conquered’.

Ady Hurrell became the Men’s World Conker Champion, and Junior Champion was ten-year-old Riley Martin from Oundle.

Chairman James Packer, 55, aka the Terminutter, said: “We are delighted to be putting on the competition this year after the disappointment of having to cancel last year.

“One of our secret sources of conkers is from a school.

“Children are forbidden to even pick up the conkers there. I think health and safety really has gone way too far.

“I’m English and it’s a quintessential game.”

This year’s event took over £6000 in cash payments to be donated to charities that support the visually impaired, but the non-cash payments are expected to make the total a lot higher.

Each game in the knock-out style tournament commences with a toss of a coin and the winner of the toss may elect to strike or receive.

From then on, each player takes turns to aim three strikes at their opponent’s conker, which must be “clearly aimed at the nut”.

A round is over when one of the conkers is smashed, and if any remains attached to the lace, further play will be decided by the stewards.

If a nut falls from the lace intact, it may be rethreaded, but if an opponent’s lace is knotted three times during a round the player risks disqualification.

Strict rules dictate that the lace of each conker must be at least 20cm long from knuckle to nut.

Historically, the tournament has heard of many ways of illegally hardening conkers, like soaking in vinegar, baking them in the oven, covering with nail varnish or filling them with glue.

Twice World Conker Champion Charlie Bray said: “There are many underhanded ways of making your conker harder. The best is to pass it through a pig.

“The conker will harden by soaking in its stomach juices. Then you search through the pig’s waste to find the conker.”

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