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I am looking for an American or UK folk saying or proverb that reflects the following idea:

  1. the closer are the players, the higher is the competition or
  2. the more level the playing field, the more intense the competition or
  3. the more homogeneous the group, the greater the rivalries ...

I think the general idea is clear, if there is no folk saying the fits it then perhaps a Biblical proverb or some classical (Greek or Roman) maxim would be equally helpful. Or even perhaps some short citation that encapsulates the idea in 1, or 2 or 3.

  • Can something be "more equal?" – Lumberjack Jul 25 '14 at 17:44
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    It reminds me a bit of Animal Farm tbh. – Lumberjack Jul 25 '14 at 17:45
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    @Lumberjack: changed "more equal" to "the closer" – Monteiro Lobato Jul 25 '14 at 17:50
  • @Lumberjack: Will check Orwell but I don't remember anything like that – Monteiro Lobato Jul 25 '14 at 17:52
  • The phrase comes from the end of the tale, around the same time that the pigs decide "4 legs good, 2 legs better." It goes something like this: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". :) – Lumberjack Jul 25 '14 at 18:05
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I don't know of any specific saying matching OP's construction and context, but here's...

The more evenly matched the adversaries are, and the more uncertain the outcome, the more compelling is the drama

...from Catholics in the Movies, Colleen McDannell - 2008

Here are hundreds more instances of "the more evenly matched the [contestants]" in Google Books, illustrating many different ways of continuing the "assertion of parallelism".

  • It is not what I wanted but searching Google books is a very helpful suggestion. – Monteiro Lobato Jul 26 '14 at 3:43
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People will say, "It's going to be a close match" or "It was a close election." You could say two competitors are "neck and neck," to indicate that they're close. You might call your adversary a "worthy opponent." Finally, "stiff competition" indicates a both competition and a tough match.

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    Agreed @Qaz I think this article manages to use all of the phrases you proposed, as well as another good one, "closely matched." Unforunately, I fear we may only be answering half of the question. – Lumberjack Jul 25 '14 at 18:12

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