A draw or tie occurs in a competitive sport when the results are identical or inconclusive. Ties or draws are possible in some, but not all, sports and games. Such an outcome, sometimes referred to as deadlock, can also occur in other areas of life such as politics, business, and wherever there are different factions regarding an issue.


The word tie is usually used in North America, whereas the word draw is usual elsewhere.

Resolving ties or draws

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

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.


Main article: Casting vote

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, or if there are more than two candidates. 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]

In some legislative bodies, a casting vote can only be exercised according to strict rules or constitutional conventions. For example, the Speaker of the British House of Commons (a position whose functions and conventions of operation inspire similar roles in several other nations using the Westminster system) is expected by convention to follow Speaker Denison's rule (i.e. to vote to allow further discussion, if this is possible, and otherwise to vote in favour of the status quo). This in effect means "Yes/Yea/Aye" on the first and second reading of a bill, "No/Nay" on the third, "Yes/Yea/Aye" on the government's budget, and "No/Nay" on a motion of no confidence.

Examples of two-player games


Main article: Draw (chess)

Chess has five ways of ending or achieving a draw from an opponent: stalemate, agreement between the players, the fifty-move rule (and its extension, seventy-five-move rule), threefold repetition (and its extension, fivefold repetition), or neither player having sufficient material to checkmate. At top-level play, roughly half of games end in a draw.


When a match ends with completion of the specified maximum number of rounds, and the judges of the match have awarded an equal number of points to both boxers, 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.


In professional sumo, draws were once common place but are no longer used in any situation. In situations that would have resulted in draws (such as close results, exhaustion, or injury) are currently resolved with immediate rematches, temporary breaks, or forfeiture.[2]


In most professional tennis matches, a tiebreaker rule applies in each set 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–all 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 did not apply to the final set of matches at the French Open, allowing the total number of games in a match to be virtually unlimited (for example, the final set of the Isner–Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships ended only when John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 70–68). The Australian Open and Wimbledon Championships did not use a final set tiebreaker through the 2018 tournaments, but began to use a tiebreaker from 2019 (For Wimbledon, the final set tiebreaker occurred after 24 games in the final set, from 2019 to 2021).

Since 2022, all Grand Slam tournaments, including the Olympics in 2024, now use 10-point final set tiebreaker games, with a 2-point lead minimum. If the tiebreaker game deciding the match is tied at 9-all, whoever scores two straight points wins.

Video games

In versus-fighting games, a draw occurs when both players end the match through a double KO; or via time over, with the same percentage of life bar. For example, some of these games, such as Street Fighter and Tekken, require two 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 round ends in a draw, 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 both players, because due to Mortal Kombat's gameplay (in which every common hit takes block damage) it is 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 or more players have equal lives or points at the end of a match, a sudden death period begins with each fighter having 300% damage, essentially making it so a single hit can win the match.[1] This is also true in Virtua Fighter. In SNK vs Capcom on the Pocket Neo Geo a draw awards the round to both sides but favours the CPU if it's a decider i.e. the player is still the loser & must restart the stage even though they technically tied.

Examples of multi-player games

American football

Tied games, which were commonplace in the National Football League (NFL) through the 1960s, had 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. However, modifications to overtime rules within the past ten years have actually made ties somewhat more common. The most recent NFL tied game occurred on December 4, 2022, when a game between the Washington Commanders and New York Giants ended in a 20–all tie after overtime.

Ties were at one point so rare in the modern league that after Donovan McNabb and other Philadelphia Eagles players said—when the team and the Cincinnati Bengals tied 13–13 in 2008—that they did not know that a game could end in a tie,[3] Ben Roethlisberger estimated that 50% of players did not know.[4] After rookie Najee Harris and other players on both teams admitted in 2021—after the Steelers tied the Detroit Lions 16–16—that they had expected the game to continue, NFL.com wrote that since McNabb, "it seems every time a game ends without a victor, at least one player admits he didn't know it was possible".[5]

Association football

If both sides have scored an equal number of goals within regulation time (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 continues tied even after this time, the match technically remains a draw; however, a penalty shootout is used to determine which team is to progress to the next stage of the tournament. In some competitions, the extra time may be skipped and the match goes straight to penalties after a drawn 90 minutes.

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 fell out of favour after excessive replays caused organisational and practicality issues.

In two-leg, home-and-away fixtures in which a winner must be determined at the end of the second leg, the away goals rule may be employed if teams' aggregate scores over two legs are level; the rule gives victory to whichever team scored more in its respective away leg. Typically the rule may be invoked both to obviate extra time and after extra time to obviate a penalty shootout. All UEFA (European) club competitions used away goals until 2021; by contrast, CONMEBOL (South America) competitions did not use this rule until 2005, but also stopped using it since 2022.[12] 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 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, and introduced extra time to Grand Finals in 2016.

Where used, extra time typically consists of two periods, each three minutes long (plus time-on if applicable), with winner being the team ahead after both periods; if scores are still level at the end of extra time, this process is repeated, with additional two 3-minute periods being played as needed until a winner can be determined.[13]


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. Nonetheless a game can be called a tie in some situations, usually in a case where one or both teams have used all available pitchers. Games can be called after fifth innings in extenuating circumstances, such as suspension due to bad weather.

For some amateur and international games, tiebreakers are used prompting an earlier conclusion during extra innings: If a tiebreaker is used, after a certain extra innings (usually 3 or 4, determined by organizer before the tournament), the innings will start with the previous two batters loaded.


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.


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

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 at least one man short. Starting with the 2015–16 NHL season, the National Hockey League went from playing one man short to two men short in overtime.[17] 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 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.

In the National Hockey League, in the playoffs, in general unlimited 20-minute sudden death periods are played, making a tie impossible. An exception occurred during the 1988 Finals, when a power failure forced the early abandonment of Game 4 between the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers with the score tied 3–3. The game was later replayed in its entirety, with the Oilers winning and sweeping the Finals except for the one shortened tied game.[18]

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.

Racing sports

Main article: Dead heat (racing)

In racing sports, if competitors appear to finish simultaneously and no technology (such as a photo finish) can separate them, this is considered a "dead heat" and in most cases the competitors tie for the place.

Horse racing

The term "dead heat" originally came from when horse racing from when horses used to race in matches consisting of multiple heats, rather than single races, with the total number of wins for horses determining 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.[19] 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.


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. However, a photo-finish camera is used at the finish line, and if the two vehicles cross the line together, the position may be declared a tie. 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 by a little" as Schumacher said, 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.[citation needed]

In Grand Prix motorcycle racing, dead heats are avoided by fastest lap times being a tiebreaking measure.[20] This rule resulted in Héctor Faubel winning the 125cc classification of the 2011 German motorcycle Grand Prix after a photo finish could not separate him and Johann Zarco.[21]

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 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 anywhere 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.

Ties in tournament play

Further information: Tiebreaker

See also


1.^ In most tournament settings, sudden death is not used for breaking ties, with most rulesets awarding the game to the player with more lives, or whoever has taken less damage if they have the same amount of lives.


  1. ^ Guardian newspaper:Police Federation chooses new chair with a coin toss, 23 May 2014. Archived 23 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine. 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. ^ Gunning, John (7 July 2019). "Sumo 101: Tied bouts". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Tie? What tie? Players getting education on NFL rules". NFL.com. Associated Press. 17 November 2008. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  4. ^ Florio, Mike (18 November 2008). "BIG BEN THINKS HALF THE LEAGUE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT TIES". ProFootballTalk. Archived from the original on 16 September 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  5. ^ Patra, Kevin (15 November 2021). "Steelers rookie RB Najee Harris 'didn't even know you could tie' following 16-16 game vs. Lions". NFL.com. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  6. ^ American Dialect Society listserv message, 26 November 2002.
  7. ^ "Harvard Beats Yale" Archived 11 April 2001 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Coaching Records Game by Game". Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  9. ^ "Division I-A All-Time Wins". Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  10. ^ DeLassus, David. "Division I-AA All-Time Wins". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  11. ^ Whiteside, Kelly (25 August 2006). "Overtime system still excites coaches". USA Today. Archived from the original on 6 September 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  12. ^ Harpur, Charlotte. "South American football's governing body abolishes away goal rule". The Athletic. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  13. ^ "No more golden score: League changes finals tie-break rule". afl.com.au. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  14. ^ "Pittsburgh Pirates 1, Chicago Cubs 1". Retrosheet. 29 September 2016. Archived from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  15. ^ "【データ】オリックスがソフトバンクと勝率で並ぶも直接対決の差でV(日刊スポーツ)". Yahoo!ニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  16. ^ Coskrey, Jason (28 October 2018). "Japan Series opener ends in 12-inning tie". Japan Times. Archived from the original on 28 October 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  17. ^ Matisz, John (23 January 2018). "3-on-3 OT: The NHL has found the sweet spot--and we're all better for it". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  18. ^ Allen, Scott (13 June 2011). "The Last Three Ties in Stanley Cup Finals History". Mentalfloss. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  19. ^ Kennedy, Linda. Kelso: Horse of Gold. Westholm Publishing, LLC: Yardley, Pennsylvania. 2007.
  20. ^ FIM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND PRIX REGULATIONS. Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme. 17 February 2018. p. 61. Archived from the original on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2018. In case of ties, the riders concerned will be ranked in the order of the best lap time made during the race.
  21. ^ "Faubel victorious after photo finish". MotoGP.com. Dorna Sports. 17 July 2011. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2018.