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I am currently working on a software that is the abstraction of a game in which draws are possible between two players. Recently, I wrote a routine that is able to detect if a game will be a draw, even though it is not yet completed.

I a looking for the correct word/expression for the situation in order to name my routine correctly. I have thought of the word "tie", but from the reading that I have done, it seems like tie mostly refer to a current state, nothing more. For example at a certain point in time, the game might be a tie, but still be winnable (hence we cannot say it will be a draw).

Is there any word/expression that indicate a game will certainly be a draw if the players complete the board?

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    You could describe the position as being unwinnable by either player, or inevitably drawn.
    – jsheeran
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:37
  • @jsheeran I like your unwinnable suggestion! As for drawn, I don't think it would be appropriate in my context because I have a draw routine, and it could get confusing for developers.
    – BobMorane
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:50
  • I'd be careful about using "unwinnable" by itself though. If it's Player A's turn and you say that the position is unwinnable, then it might suggest that Player B is in a very strong position, which in this scenario won't be the case.
    – jsheeran
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:58
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    There's also the term stalemate, which has a technically precise meaning in chess, but more generically means that players still have options, but none of those options lead to either player winning. Dec 1, 2017 at 14:59
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    You could try stalemate, but that's really just another word for tie and therefore that implies the current state is a tie. willBeStalemate maybe?
    – Neil
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:59

1 Answer 1

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Although some comments disagree, I feel "stalemate" is what you want to say.

In chess it's common for the players to be looking ahead many moves to see advantage and consequence of move and counter-move. A stalemate is a condition where neither player can win, even if currently, to an inexperienced eye, it still looks like one player could win.

In other words, once it's decided that the game will inevitably end in a draw, then the players can call a stalemate and end the game, even if there are still many moves left to play. In the same way a computer can look ahead any number of possible moves and decide there is no winnable outcome, and declare the game over.

Both "tie" and "draw" also work, in the right context. Just declare isStalemate (or isDraw) equal to "true", and perhaps include some description in the comments to explain how this means it's inevitable that neither player will win.

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  • But doesn't "stalemate" allow to possibility for a player to still win? From my understanding of it, the stalemate condition in chess can lead to a draw only if called by one of the player. Otherwise, the game can continue and one of the player can still loose. In my case, I was rather looking for a word/expression where to draw is completely inevitable, even if the game continues until the end. Am I wrong?
    – BobMorane
    Dec 1, 2017 at 16:16
  • @BobMorane I suppose technically but a good chess player will be able to recognize the inevitable stalemate long before they actually run out of moves. In that case they can declare a stalemate and end the game, even though there are moves left to play.
    – Andrew
    Dec 1, 2017 at 16:20

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