What Happens if There’s a Tie in the Worlds Drum Corps Title at Glasgow Green?

Our MacStig is a deep thinker and closet data anorak. He’s a stats freak, not just a pretty face, (truthfully not pretty at all – he could frighten a police horse and has a great face for radio – hence the helmet). But spare him some of your time. You might have heard his brain clunking as far north as Oban and the cerebral gears grinding far south in Gatehouse of Fleet…….

I am in my Highland retreat, midge central, water lapping at the bottom of the foundations of MacStig manor. I’m hoping the land slip and railway line wash away will be resolved in time to allow me to get to Glaschu for the Piping Live malarkey next week.

I had hoped to venture to North Berwick and Perth over this coming weekend, but the Fair City abandoned ship last night (cancelled) and the forecasts do look awful for the weekend; we will have to wait and see. The canoe might get me down to NB. 

Sitting here looking at the dark rain clouds passing over had me wondering about the scoring system for Grade 1 at the Worlds, explained in a recent RSPBA press release.

By MacStig

I had to take two migraine tablets after the fourth read but it kind of makes sense. Then there was the error in Ontario last weekend at the North American Pipe Band Championships, when the wrong band were announced as winners. The stated rule hadn’t been adhered to and the 78th Frasers marched off in celebration. Dunedin from Florida found out in the beer tent that they were the actual winners. Can you believe that? What a shocker.

This is how the PPBSO got it wrong at Maxville. The combined scores tied. Those in charge thought the MSR result was the tie-breaker when it should have been the MSR Ensemble placing. The 78th Frasers announced as winners; Dunedin despondent. What a disaster. Mistakes happen but why not invite the Floroida outfit back next year all expenses paid and a public apology announced to the crowd?

In Glasgow, the pathway has been clearly spelled out and after running through the five tie breaker scenarios listed in the release, a new ‘6th tie breaker’ will prefer Saturday performances. (See below)



So in the limited chance of a tie (times five), Saturday scores are more important than those on Friday. Such is the challenge in having even number contests. Two as in Glengarry, and four as there will be in Glasgow, provides no natural odd number. That’s why many events like tennis, darts, are best of three, five, 41, or any odd number you like. 

Now stay with me folks, and kiss me Hardy as old Horatio may have said, what about the World Champion sash for best overall drum corps at the Green?

Ah yes, there is a very low probability, but a probability none the less, that a tie could happen if two bands each place first in an MSR AND Medley over the two days scoring 1 and 2 and 2 and 1 each. 

The old tie break system would have been for an MSR Preference and off into the night they would march with the sash on. So I ask the question – will the Saturday MSR drumming placing be the decider in the event that there is a tie, however unlikely, as I’ve described?

Or is something already in place I’m not aware of? Again the problem is the even number of each discipline. Mirror imaging doesn’t allow easy differentiators. You need an odd number or a specific tie break condition to elevate one of the outcomes to win. 

I’m going to lie down in a dark room now, but it’s better to ask than have the situation arise and the tinfoil hats cry conspiracy. It would be useful to hear from the relevant authority. Over and out. MacStig.

The RSPBA tie break rules for Grade 1 bands as they have been published by the Association: ‘We currently have a rule in place (4.68) which is the process for breaking ties in a contest where the final result is decided by the combined performance totals.

1st Preference – Ensemble combined overall totals 
2nd Preference – Piping combined overall totals 
3rd Preference – Drumming combined overall totals 
4th Preference – Ensemble total in MSR contest 
5th Preference – Ensemble total in Medley contest

After some work it was discovered that there was a mathematic possibility that even after the 5 preferences have been exhausted there could still be a tie. After discussions with the Chief Executive and the Chairman, the Music Board have agreed that the best way to deal with this unlikely scenario of a tie after the five preferences, is to apply the above preference criteria again based on the two performances on the Saturday only.


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2 thoughts on “What Happens if There’s a Tie in the Worlds Drum Corps Title at Glasgow Green?

  1. Agreed except for the suggestion regarding the announcement mistake at the Maxville North American Championships “… why not invite the Florida outfit back next year all expenses paid …” Have you any idea of geographical distance? Have you any idea of cost of accommodation in the area of Canada’s capital city? Do you have any concept of how much all this would cost??? The games are already expensive enough for the general public to attend. Give your head a shake!

  2. As a former statistician, the chances of a tie after 4 competitions (2 MSR and 2 Medley), and still a tie remaining after 5 tie-breakers, is so remote that is not worth contemplating. The chances of aliens landing on Glasgow Green on Saturday is higher!

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