Scoring
In horseshoes, there are two ways to score: by throwing "ringers" or by throwing the horseshoe nearest to the stake. This scoring system gives rise to the popular expression "Close only counts in horseshoes". A ringer is a thrown horseshoe such that the horseshoe completely encircles the stake. Disputes are settled by using a straightedge to touch the two points at the ends of the horseshoe, called "heel calks". If the straightedge doesn't touch the stake, then the horseshoe is a ringer.
One player pitches both shoes in succession to one pit, followed by the other player. This is formally called an inning. Normally only one pitcher can score points per inning, however some leagues and tournaments play "count all", in which all points in each inning are counted. A live shoe that is not a ringer, but comes to rest six inches (6”) or closer to the stake, has a value of one (1) point. This includes a “leaner”. If both of one player's horseshoes are closer than the opponent's, two points are scored. A ringer scores three points. In the case of one ringer and a closer horseshoe, both horseshoes are scored for a total of four points. If a player throws two ringers, that player scores six points. If each player throws a ringer, the ringers cancel and no points are scored. If two ringers are thrown by one player and one ringer by the opponent, the player throwing two ringers scores three points. This is typically called "two dead and three" or "three ringers three" for score keeping purposes. Such occurrences are called "dead ringers" and are still used toward the pitcher/ringer average. Backyard games can be played to any number of points that is agreed upon, but are usually to 21 points, win by 2. In most sanctioned tournaments the handicapped divisions pitch 50 shoe games, most points win. If there is a tie, the pitchers pitch an additional 2 innings (alternating pitch) until the tie is broken. Championship divisions, or nonhandicapped divisions are pitched to 40 points, regardless of the number of shoes pitched. In Philadelphia when a player tops another players ringer the player is awarded 6 points.
Single points in amateur games must measure 6 inches or less from any part of the shoe to the nearest part of the stake. Also, a game cannot be won when an opposing player, tossing a shoe, bumps an opponent's shoe to cause the opponent to reach the winning score be it eleven or twentyone. The gamewinning point must be attained by the person tossing the horseshoe pertaining to his own score. Examples: If a player has 10 points and an opponent has 8 points, and the player with 10 points tosses a horseshoe and bumps his opponent's horseshoe for a ringer, the opponent scores 3 points for a total of 11 points, but does not win the game because of the 2 point rule. If a player has 9 points and an opponent 8 points and the player with 9 points tosses a horseshoe and bumps his opponent's horseshoe for a ringer, the opponent cannot score 3 points, because the winning point must be attained by his own toss. However, the opponent can take two points, bringing his total point score to 10.

A player prepares to toss a horseshoe.

Teig Hogan prepares to toss horseshoe at the Our Community Place Lawn Jam on June 28, 2008 in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
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