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tug-of-war

noun
1.
a contest in which two people or teams pull opposite ends of a rope in an attempt to drag the opposition over a central line
2.
any hard struggle, esp between two equally matched factions
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for tug-of-war

athletic contest between two teams at opposite ends of a rope, each team trying to drag the other across a centre line. In some forms of the game a tape or handkerchief is tied around the centre of the rope, and two others are tied six feet (1.8 metres) on either side. Three corresponding lines are marked on the ground. The game ends when one team pulls the other so that the tape on the losers' side crosses the ground mark on the winners' side. The contest is decided by the best two out of three pulls. A rural pastime in England and Scotland, the tug-of-war was an Olympic event from 1900 to 1920, with five men to a side. It has often been an outdoor contest at Scottish Highland Games and at other large social gatherings in the 20th century.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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