World Conker Championships return to Northamptonshire this weekend

Action from a previous conker championship.
Action from a previous conker championship.

More than 200 competitors will battle it out to try and become the world conker champion in Northamptonshire on Sunday (October 13).

The popular event sees people of all ages from more than a dozen countries try and smash through the opposition at The Shuckburgh Arms in Southwick, near Oundle.

Action from a previous conker championship.

Action from a previous conker championship.

About 3,000 fresh conker 'weapons' are collected by the organisers from the county, graded and strung on leather bootlaces, but with the horse chestnut tree fighting the leaf miner moth organiser St. John Burkett said they may have to get some from elsewhere.

He said: "The conkers are a bit smaller this year because the goodness isn't getting to them.

"We may have to go a bit further afield."

Hostilities will commence after the town crier has introduced King Conker and The Lord Robartes, with the junior event starting at 10.30am followed by the championships at 11am.

Mike Sewell, from BBC Radio 5 Live, is once again the championship’s master of ceremonies and will be providing live commentary throughout the day.

About 300 conker 'beauties' are needed for the finals, with the winners crowned shortly after 3pm.

Last year's male and female winners were Stuart Campbell and Karen Holloway, with Karen taking the overall title after winning the final showdown.

Previous years have seen up to 2,000 spectators and Mr Burkett said he hopes the weather will be better than the forecast with a big crowd.

Recent championships have seen the need for conkers to be brought over from Germany.

Mr Burkett added: "I hope Brexit does not affect it too much!"

Also at the site of the championships - which is still looking for sponsors - will be a juggling workshop, pub games, English Civil War living history encampment, music and dancing.

Refreshments and food stalls will also be available.

Proceeds from the day mainly go to organisations supporting the blind and visually impaired with donations also going to Southwick's village hall and church.

Since the championships began in 1965 almost half-a-million pounds has been raised.

Admission prices are £5 for adults, £2.50 for children and £10 for a family ticket.

The rules:

Conkers are provided for each game and cannot be tampered with or reused

There must be at least 20cm (8in) of lace between knuckle and nut

Each player takes three alternate strikes at their opponent's conker, with a game decided once one of the conkers is smashed

If a game lasts for more than five minutes it is halted and each player will be allowed a further nine strikes

If neither conker is smashed then the winner will be the player who hit the nut the most times during this period