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Tie (draw)

To draw or tie is to finish a competition with identical or inconclusive results. Draw is usually used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations (except in Canada) and it is usually used for sports such as association football and Australian rules football. In cricket, a draw and a tie are two different things.

Ties or draws are possible in some, but not all, sports and games. Such an outcome, sometimes referred to as deadlock, can occur in politics, business, and wherever there are different factions regarding an issue.


  • Resolving ties or draws 1
  • Examples 2
    • American football 2.1
    • Association football 2.2
    • Australian rules football 2.3
    • Baseball 2.4
    • Basketball 2.5
    • Boxing 2.6
    • Chess 2.7
    • Cricket 2.8
    • Horse racing 2.9
    • Ice hockey 2.10
    • Motorsport 2.11
    • Tournament poker 2.12
    • Rugby league 2.13
    • Rugby union 2.14
    • Tennis 2.15
    • Video game 2.16
  • Ties in tournament play 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Resolving ties or draws

In instances where a winner must be determined, several methods are commonly used. Across various sports:

  • Some other measure may be used, such as aggregate point difference.
  • A game may continue on in extra time. In order to ensure a quick result, some form of sudden death rule may apply.
  • In some sports, a penalty shootout or bowl-out may occur.
  • A rematch may occur at a later date, especially if a winner must be selected (in a final).
  • The result might be decided by chance (e.g. a toss of a coin) when no objective method of determining a result remains.

The rules governing the resolution of drawn matches are rarely uniform across an entire sport, and are usually specified by the rules of the competition.

In other areas, such as in a vote, there may be a method to break the tie. Having an odd number of voters is one solution—after the election of the Doge of Venice by a committee of 40 was deadlocked in a tie, the number of electors was increased to 41—but may not always be successful, for example, if a member is absent or abstains. In many cases one member of an assembly may by convention not normally vote, but will exercise a casting vote in case of deadlock. Sometimes some method of random choice, such as tossing a coin, may be resorted to even in a formal vote.[1]


American football

Tie games, which were commonplace in the National Football League through the 1960s, have become exceedingly rare with the introduction of sudden death overtime which first applied to the regular season in 1974. The first game this new rule applied to ended in a tie between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. The most recent NFL tie happened on October 12, 2014, when a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers ended with a 37-37 score after both teams scored in overtime.

  • In the National Football League, if the team having first possession in overtime scores only a field goal, the other team receives the ball and can either tie the game with a field goal resulting in continuation of overtime (which then becomes sudden death) or score a touchdown, thereby winning the game. This modified sudden death rule was instituted during the 2010 playoffs and adopted for the 2012 regular season. If the overtime period ends with the score tied, either because both teams scored field goals on their initial possessions and failed to score again or neither team scored throughout the duration of the overtime period, then the game ends in a tie. The exception to this rule is the playoffs. In the playoffs additional overtime periods are played until a winner is determined.
  • In college, Canadian, and high school an overtime system has been introduced through the various classifications over time.[2]
    • The unpopularity of ties in American sports is reflected in the saying, "A tie is like kissing your sister." The earliest known use of the phrase was by Navy football coach Eddie Erdelatz after a scoreless tie against Duke in 1953.[3]
    • The 1968 Yale vs. Harvard football game ended in a 29–29 tie, but the Harvard Crimson student newspaper famously printed the headline "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29".[4]
    • October 6, 1990: Kansas and Iowa State end their game in a 34-34 tie,[5] giving KU the all-time NCAA Division I-A record for number of tie games with 57.[6] Illinois State holds the Division I-AA record for ties with 66.[7] Since then, NCAA football games have a tie-breaking rule, so only a rule change would allow this record to be broken.[2] The only exception would be if teams agree to a draw because of severe weather conditions (if severe weather strikes when a game is tied once the third quarter begins, including overtime, or during overtime, if one team scores in an overtime period, and the other team had not finished their series when the weather situation occurs (lightning), and the delay is excessively long, the teams may agree to a draw for the safety of the players; the NCAA rules are stringent on lightning delays, requiring a minimum 30-minute delay upon the first detected lightning strike within 6.2 miles (10 km) of the venue, and each lightning strike detected at the venue results in an automatic resetting of the clock). The 1995/96 school year was the last to feature tie games.

Association football

If both sides have scored an equal number of goals within regulation time (usually 90 minutes), the game is usually counted as a draw. In elimination games, where a winner must be determined to progress to the next stage of the tournament, two periods of extra time are played. If the score remains even after this time, the match technically remains a draw; however, a penalty shootout (officially called "kicks from the penalty mark") is used to determine which team is to progress to the next stage of the tournament.

Some competitions, such as the FA Cup employ a system of replays where the drawn match is repeated at the ground of the away team in the first game. Although this was a widely-used tiebreaker, it soon fell out of favour after excessive replays caused organisational and practicality issues.

In two-legged matches in which a winner must be determined, extra time is not necessarily employed. If the match is level on aggregate (total) goals at the end of the second leg, some governing bodies apply the away goals rule to determine a winner. Extra time is only played if away goals do not produce a winner. All UEFA (European) club competitions use away goals; by contrast, CONMEBOL (South America) competitions did not use this rule until 2005. Major League Soccer, the Tier One league in the United States and Canada, did not adopt the away goals rule until 2014.

Australian rules football

Draws in Australian rules football have occurred at an average of two per season (under the current fixture). If a draw occurs during a regular season match, the result stands as a draw, and both teams earn premiership points equivalent to half of a win (two points, or one in South Australian competition).

Traditionally, when a draw occurred during a finals match, the match would be replayed the following week, but this practice has been replaced by in recent years. The Australian Football League introduced extra time to finals (except for the Grand Final) in 1991 following the logistical difficulties that arose after the 1990 Qualifying Final between Collingwood and West Coast was drawn; if the scores are level in Grand Final at the final siren, the match is still replayed.

Where used, extra time typically consists of two periods, each five minutes long (plus time-on if applicable), with winner being the team ahead after both periods; some leagues (e.g. the TAC Cup) use sudden death, where the siren will not sound until a team next scores.


Ties are relatively rare in baseball, since the practice dating back to the earliest days of the game is to play extra innings until one side has the lead after an equal number of innings played. An exception is spring training, where a game can be called a tie upon agreement by both teams, usually in a case where one or both teams have used all available pitchers. Games can be called after nine innings, or after any extra inning, and typically do not last more than 11 innings.

  • In college baseball, a conference will declare a game may be tied in extenuating circumstances, usually in the final game of a series only, or in non-conference midweek games:
    • The game reaches curfew time, to allow the visiting team to travel home for classes the next day. Often, the curfew time will be early, forcing the game to be started early. In the Southeastern Conference, for example, the visiting team shall post travel details and a designated departure time to the home team prior to the start of the season, with no game starting later than 1 PM local time if a team is using air travel. No half-inning may start within 15 minutes of the designated departure time.
    • If an inning begins, and the visiting team has scored at least one run to take the lead, but the home team has not finished its turn to bat in the extra inning, the entire inning can be wiped off and the game declared a tie. This is typically used in extra innings.
      • However, if a game starts late, and the trailing team is at bat at the 15-minute point, and ties the game, the game can be declared a tie.
  • In North American Major League Baseball, a game may end in a tie only due to weather or, historically, darkness (a called game due to darkness is unlikely to happen now that all Major League parks have floodlights; darkness also means reaching the curfew prohibiting innings from starting after 1 AM local time). Before 2007, tie games ended by weather were replayed from the start, but since 2007, the games are continued from where they left off. A tie game may also be declared if a game is tied, the two teams are not scheduled to play again for the remainder of the year, and the game does not affect playoff implications.
    • The 2002 All-star Game was declared a tie after eleven innings, due to a lack of pitchers.
  • In Japan, a game in regular season (including interleague) or Climax Series (the 3-team stepladder playoff to determine the team playing Japan Series) tied after nine innings may continue for up to three extra innings, after which the game is called a tie if the score is still even after 12 innings. Ties do not count against a team, however, and are "discarded" for purposes of winning percentage. If teams are tied in the won-loss percentage at the end of the season, the team with the better record the previous season wins the tiebreaker. If a tie occurred in the Climax Series (tied series in the first round or 2-3-1 with the first-place team winning two games, the team winning the first round winning three, and one game is tied), the team with better standing in that regular season advances.
    • During the Japan Series, up to six extra innings may be played, for a limit of 15 innings in the first seven games. If the series is tied after seven games, Game Eight will be played without an innings limit, thereby the game and Series winner must be decided in Game Eight.
    • During the 2011 season and 2012 regular season, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami resulted in special rule changes for energy conservation. All night games had a 3 hour, 30 minute limit, and the result was an automatic tie game if it was tied after the 9th inning and the time limit was reached. The rule does not apply to 2011 Japan Series's games, and was later lifted before the beginning of 2012 Climax Series.
    • Unlike MLB, NPB's All-star games do not include extra innings. Therefore, a tie will be declared if 9 innings have been played if neither side is leading.
  • Many amateur baseball leagues include tie games in the standing if an official game is called for darkness or rain with a tie score. Often, times a point system is used for standings, with two points being awarded for a win, and one for a tie. One exception is in Japan's High-School level baseball, which they are held in form of tournaments: The game may still declared as a tie after 15 innings (18 innings before 2001), but if such a game occurred, a rematch will be arranged in the following day if possible, which usually scheduled the first game of the following day.
  • In some International level games, the rule is similar to MLB, but a tiebreaker rule is used when 12 innings has been played: the 13th inning and so on will start in the condition which the first and second base being loaded by the previous two batters. it was first implemented in the final round of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and first happened in the finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
  • In Taiwan's CPBL, the same rule as NPB applies in the regular season. In the Taiwan Series, there is no limit to the number of innings in a game, but any game that has reached official game status and is tied when a game is called because of weather is an official tie game. (Amended in 2011).


Ties are somewhat rare in basketball due to the high-scoring nature of the game: if the score is tied at the end of regulation, the rules provide that as many extra periods as necessary will be played until one side has a higher score. However, on rare occasions time or other circumstances have not allowed a game to be completed to a decision, and a tie has been declared. If a game is non-competitive (such as an exhibition game), a draw may be declared if the scores are tied at the end of regulation.


When a match ends with completion of the specified maximum number of rounds, and the judges of the match have awarded an equal amount of points to both contestants, or if there are three judges (as is the custom) and one judge awards the fight to one fighter, another awards the fight to the opposing fighter, and the third scores it a draw (split draw), the match is declared a draw. The contest would be scored a draw even if two of three judges score it a draw and the third does not (a majority draw). Draws are relatively rare in boxing: certain scoring systems make it impossible for a judge to award equal points for a match. If a championship bout ends in a draw, the champion usually retains the title.

If there is a draw in a quarterfinal or a semifinal match of a tournament, a tiebreaker round is played instead.


A stalemate is one game situation by which a game can end in a draw; draws can also be the result of an agreement between the players, the fifty-move rule, threefold repetition, or neither player having sufficient material to checkmate (such as King versus King and one Bishop or Knight).


Cricket distinguishes between a tie and a draw, which are two possible results of a game:

  • A tie is the identical result that occurs when each team has scored the same total number of runs after their allotted innings, all innings being completed. This is very rare in Test cricket and has happened only twice in its long history, but they are slightly more commonplace in first-class and limited-overs matches.
  • A draw is the inconclusive result that occurs when the allotted playing time for the game expires without the teams having completed their innings. This is relatively common, occurring in 20-30% of Test matches with a perhaps higher percentage of first-class matches as they are scheduled for four days instead of five. Limited-overs matches cannot be drawn, although they can end with a no result if abandoned because of weather or other factors.

Horse racing

A dead heat is a tie between two or, rarely, more horses in a race. The terminology originally came from when horses used to race in matches consisting of heats, rather than single races, and the first horse winning two heats was declared the winner of the match. When the judges could not determine the first horse over the finish line, the heat was declared "dead," and did not count.[8] Usually, a photo finish can determine the winner, but at times it is too close to call. If there is a dead heat, wagers are paid on all winning horses, but against half the original stake (or one-third if there were three tied horses, and so on). See List of dead heat horse races.

Ice hockey

If the score is even after three periods, the game may end in a tie, or overtime may be played. In most North American professional leagues, the regular-season tie-breaker is five minutes long, with each side playing one man short. Should a team have two players penalised during the overtime, the team on the power play will play with a fifth player. In the Southern Professional Hockey League, each side plays only three players, with a minor penalty in the first three minutes resulting in a team on the power play earning an extra man; a minor penalty in the final two minutes, or a major penalty, results in the awarding of a penalty shot. A goal wins the game in sudden death; otherwise, a shootout will occur, with three players participating for each side. If the score is still tied, the shootout will go into sudden death. In North American minor leagues, the same procedure is used except shootouts are five players. In each case, the winner of the shootout is awarded credit for a regulation win (two points), and the loser of the overtime is marked with an overtime loss (OTL) and receives credit equal to half of one win (one point). In the National Hockey League, shootout wins are still counted as two points, but for breaking a tie in terms of points at the end of the season, the team with more regulation and overtime wins (ROW) takes the higher position in the standings. The Swedish Swedish Hockey League (SHL) uses a 3-2-1-0 point system in the regular season, where a regulation win is worth three points, a win in the five-minute sudden death overtime period or a shootout win two points, and an overtime loss as well as a shootout loss one point in the standings.


Ties in motor racing almost never occur. Nearly all modern racing cars and motorcycles carry electronic transponders which relay precise timing information down to the thousandths of a second. The 1974 Firecracker 400 is the only case in modern NASCAR history where a tie has occurred in a position; Cale Yarborough and Buddy Baker tied for third after 160 laps. At the 2002 United States Formula One Grand Prix, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher attempted to stage a dead heat with teammate Rubens Barrichello but failed, finishing 0.011 seconds behind Barrichello. The F1 Sporting Regulations provide that in the event of a dead heat in a race, points and prizes will be added together and shared equally among the tying drivers. At the German round of the 2011 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season, 125cc class riders Héctor Faubel and Johann Zarco finished in a dead heat and could not be separated on either video replays or photo finish images.[9] Faubel was awarded the victory on the basis of recording a faster lap time than Zarco during the race.[10]

Tournament poker

Ties rarely occur, since multiple simultaneous player eliminations will rank the eliminated players by chip counts. However, if two or more players are eliminated in one hand, and both players started the hand with identical chip counts, the players will be tied in official rankings. It is impossible for poker tournaments to end in a tie (since one player must end up with all the chips), though multiple players may be tied for second (or lower) place.

Rugby league

In the premier Australasian rugby league competition, the National Rugby League, draws are possible but first are subject to golden point overtime. Golden point also applies to the State of Origin series and Four Nations matches. In rugby league in the United Kingdom, draws can also occur, as in league games, if the score of both teams remain level by the end of 80 minutes play, the game ends a draw, and each team is awarded one point in the league rather than two for a win.

Rugby union

Draws are uncommon in rugby union due to the variety of different ways to score and different values for each type of score. Draws are allowed to stand in league play. In the knockout stages of the Rugby Union World Cup, two 10 minute periods of extra time are played. If there is still no winner, a 10 minute period of sudden death is played where any score wins the game. Should the result still be tied a place-kicking competition is held where 5 players from each side take one kick each from any on the 22 metre line (usually straight in front of the posts). The semi-final of the Heineken Cup between Cardiff Blues and Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium was decided by a "kick-off". After five kicks per team, the scores were level at 4-4 after Johne Murphy (Leicester) and Tom James (Cardiff) had missed their kicks. Moving now to sudden death, the score continued to 6-6 but, after Martyn Williams pulled his kick wide, Leicester number eight Jordan Crane scored to send Leicester Tigers to the Heineken Cup Final in Edinburgh. In certain knockout competitions, if the scores are drawn after 80 minutes, the teams that have scored the most tries are considered the victors. However, if the number of tries scored are equal, the teams proceed to play overtime.


In most professional tennis matches, a tiebreaker rule applies in each set in order to avoid lengthy matches, as happens quite frequently if the traditional tennis rule for winning a set is followed. When players reach a score of 6-6 in a set, instead of continuing the set until one opponent wins with a two-game difference, a special game is played to decide the winner of the set; the winner is the first to reach at least seven points with a difference of two over the opponent. This however does not apply to the 5th set of matches at the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon Championships; allowing the total number of games in a match to be virtually unlimited (for example, the Isner–Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships ended only when John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 70–68).

Video games

In versus-fighting games, a draw occurs when both players end the match through a double K.O.; or via time over with the same percentage of life bar. For example, some of these games require two winning rounds to win the match, and if after a third round the score ends in a 1-1 draw, the players have to fight again in an extra round. If this extra match ends in a tie, the game will end for both players. In Mortal Kombat, if a round ends when the time runs out and both players have complete life bars, the game ends for the two players, because due to Mortal Kombat‍ '​s gameplay (in which every common hit takes block damage) it's virtually impossible for a round to end tied, and that means the players were not playing for real. In the Super Smash Bros series, if two players have equal lives at the end of a tied match a sudden death period begins with each player having 300% damage, essentially making it so a single hit can win the game.

Ties in tournament play

See also

  • Weak ordering, a mathematical formulation of a ranking that allows ties (such as in the outcome of a horse race)


  1. ^ Guardian newspaper:Police Federation chooses new chair with a coin toss, 23 May 2014. Example of random tie-breaking: the leader of the Police Federation of England and Wales was determined by a coin toss, after a tied vote.
  2. ^ a b Whiteside, Kelly (August 25, 2006). "Overtime system still excites coaches". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 24, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  3. ^ American Dialect Society listserv message, Nov. 26, 2002.
  4. ^ "Harvard Beats Yale"
  5. ^ Coaching Records Game by Game
  6. ^ Division I-A All-Time Wins
  7. ^ DeLassus, David. "Division I-AA All-Time Wins".  
  8. ^ Kennedy, Linda. Kelso: Horse of Gold. Westholm Publishing, LLC: Yardley, Pennsylvania. 2007.
  9. ^ "Faubel victorious after photo finish". ( 
  10. ^ "2011 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations: Article 1.24 - Finish of a Race and Race Results" ( 
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