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Last Updated: Monday, 13 October, 2003, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Corby conkerer crowned king
Brian Stewart and Debbie Oates - Conker King and Queen
It was a clean sweep for England in the championships
A Corby man has been crowned King Conker at this year's World Conker Championships.

Brian Stewart, 39, beat challengers from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Poland, the Ukraine and Canada, to win the coveted title - and a year's supply of ice-cream.

Debbie Oates, 24, from Walthamstow in London, was crowned Queen Conker.

The annual conker contest, which started in 1965, was held on the village green in Ashton, near Oundle, Northamptonshire.

About 5,000 people turned out to watch the event, which attracted more than 350 competitors.

The money raised will go to charities for the blind.

Luck 'conkers' all

Mr Stewart told BBC News Online that it had been a "fantastic day", and that he would not have won without practising with his daughter, Jacqueline, seven, who was in the junior event.

Competitors are not allowed to use their own chestnuts
The lace between knuckle and nut must measure 8 inches
The striker must not deliberately miss the conker
Tangling of laces (snags) will be noted. Three snags and you're out
Striker has three shots: opponent has three shots. Game continues until a conker is smashed
"It's all down to her. This is the furthest I've got as normally I go out in the first or second round," he said.

He did admit, however, that luck had played a major part in his win.

"I'd love to say it was all the hard practice, but really a lot of it is purely luck."

The championships were briefly threatened when sweltering summer temperatures caused horse chestnut trees to drop their conkers early.

Those that fell were deemed too small for competition status, and even led to the creation of a black market in conker specimens.

But organisers eventually managed to gather the 1,500 conkers required for the contest.

Conkerers prepare for championships
12 Oct 03  |  Northamptonshire
Threat to conker contest
26 Sep 03  |  Northamptonshire
Hail the conkering heroes
13 Oct 02  |  England
Battle of the sexes ruled out
14 Oct 01  |  England
Smashing time with conkers
13 Oct 01  |  England


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