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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2006, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Enough nuts for conker champions
conkers
More than 300 people took part in the World Conker Championships
The worst fears of the organisers of the 42nd World Conker Championships, that drought would blight the contest, proved unfounded.

Lack of rain in September raised concerns the 310 contestants would have to fight with smaller softer nuts.

Battle commenced on Sunday at the village of Ashton in Northamptonshire.

Landlady Sandie Gardner, 36, was crowned women's world champion with the men's event going to Chris Jones, 48, from Kennington, South London.

Organisers harvested and laced about 2,000 nuts for the 2006 title contest which took place on a green behind a pub.

No-one is allowed to supply their own conkers or laces and the rules say each game will be decided "once one of the conkers is smashed".

The championships began in 1965 after a group of people in Ashton held a conker contest because the weather was too bad to go fishing.

"Things started in a small way when a group of regulars at the local pub were thwarted by bad weather in their attempt to organise a fishing expedition," said John Hadman, secretary of the Ashton Conker Club.

"The suggestion that they play conkers was made and taken up. A small prize was awarded to the winner and a collection was made for charity."

Since then the annual championships have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity and regularly attract entrants from a variety of countries.

Conkers is a traditional sport played in September and October when nuts from the horse chestnut tree ripen.

The game, which is popular with schoolchildren, is played by two people who string a lace through the centre of the nut and take it in turns to strike each others conker with it. The winner is declared when the opponent's nut shatters.




SEE ALSO
Close watch kept on conker cheats
10 Oct 05 |  Northamptonshire
Action to tackle conkers cheats
08 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Conker champ after only one year
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School bans 'nut allergy' conkers
07 Oct 04 |  Education
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06 Jul 04 |  Education

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