“Meat and eggs. We eat!” – Borborygmos

Peyton and Penelope are playing in your PPTQ. During round 3 they finished their match early, and went and got lunch from the Chinese restaraunt next door. They returned to their table and ate their lunch. You just announced pairings for round 4, and notice that they left their to-go boxes at the table they were eating at, as well as empty drink bottles, and some spilled General Tso’s sauce. Players are moving to their seats, and the two players now paired at the table have arrived and point out the trash to you. What do you do?


Judges feel free to discuss on Judge Apps!

First, either clean up the boxes/bottles and wipe up the mess if possible, or find an appropriate alternate table for the two new players to sit, and ensure they receive their correct match slip. Then, when Peyton and Penelope have finished their match, talk to each of them and let them know that it’s not cool to leave their trash around so that someone else has to pick it up, and that it was disruptive to other players. Also let them know that they are receiving a Warning for Unsporting Conduct – Minor.

Be Patient, then Dash!

At a PPTQ you’re head judging, Art attacks Nin with a Dashed Lightning Berserker. The players calculate damage, then Art passes the turn. Nin takes her turn, then passes back the turn. Art attacks with the Berserker again on his next turn, pumping it multiple times with its activated ability. With the last of those activations on the stack, Nin calls you over and points out that the Berserker should have been returned to Art’s hand at the end of his last turn.

When you investigate further, you learn that Art had completely forgotten that he dashed this Berserker in since he cast one normally earlier in the game. You also learn that Nin noticed the issue during her turn, but decided to wait to call you until now to throw off Art’s game plan. What do you do?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

Nin, while she noticed an infraction but didn’t call immediate attention to it, has not committed any infraction herself because players are NEVER obligated to point out their opponent’s missed triggers. Therefore she is within her right to notice the error and wait to call a judge later. She is gaining an advantage through paying more attention to the game than her opponent and knowing very well how the rules apply to the situation, both of which are legal and encouraged.

Art is guilty of GPE-Missed Trigger, and because the dash ability’s delayed trigger is generally detrimental, he will be awarded a warning. Because this is a delayed trigger that changes the zones of an object, it doesn’t expire, and will be resolved either the next time a player would get priority or at the start of the next phase, whichever Nin chooses.

Emrakul, the situation torn

At a Grand Prix Trial, Ajani plays Glimpse the Unthinkable and mills Nissa for ten cards. Amongst them, Emrakul is put into the graveyard. After the ten cards are put into the graveyard, Nissa immediately picks up her graveyard and begins shuffling it into her library. Ajani calls over a judge and explains he wished to respond to the Emrakul trigger with the Crypt Incursion he has in his hand. After investigation, you find out there were about 30 cards in Nissa’s graveyard after Glimpse the Unthinkable had resolved. What do you do?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

Thank you for everyone who contributed to this week’s KP discussion. 4 pages of lively debate made for some interesting readings and opinions. This week, there are two possible ways to address the situation. Fortunately, they have almost identical outcomes!

The first way to approach this is as a GRV. Technically speaking, Nissa is responsible for giving Ajani priority before resolving the trigger, which means in this case she’s violated the CR. We can assess the GRV for the error, but a rewind is impossible here and no partial fixes are relevant.

The second approach is to look at Nissa’s actions as a proposed shortcut. While she didn’t communicate it well (or at all), what she’s doing is shortcutting through two priority passes straight to the trigger resolving. Shortcuts exist to allow players to just play, and not worry about the highly technical side of things, so in many situations this would be fine. Unfortunately she didn’t give him the chance to accept or reject her shortcut, which violates the MTR in a way that’s not a specific infraction. As such, there is no penalty, we would simply tell her that she needs to not repeat this error, and any further issues of this type would be handled with USC-Minor and an investigation.

Both approaches lead us to the same place- the game has been messed up in a way we don’t have the power to fix, we tell Nissa she needs to be more careful moving forward.

Break it Down Now

You have called time in round 6 of a GPT for which you are the head judge. You are overseeing the extra turns of the last match when you overhear Nate talking to his friend about how he played three really good games but since he lost and is dead in the event he gave the opponent 2-0, in case it mattered. You double check with the score keeper that the result was reported as 2-0 (it was). You then call Nate’s opponent Andy to the judge area. Andy tells you “I asked for 2-0, to help with breakers … I mean, it’s not mentioned in the penalty guide, so it must be OK, right?”

How do you handle the situation from there?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

To find our answer, let’s take a look at MTR 2.4.
MTR 2.4 If a game or match is not completed, players may concede or mutually agree to draw in that game or match. A match is considered complete once the result slip is filled out or, if match slips are not being used, a player leaves the table after game play is finished. Until that point, either player may concede to or draw with the other, though if the conceding player won a game in the match, the match must be reported as 2-1. Intentional draws are always reported as 0-0-3.
While Andy has done something wrong in asking for a result that violates MTR 2.4, our investigation determined he wasn’t aware what he was doing was illegal. As such, we will inform him that this is not an allowable action and fix the result with the scorekeeper.

Some people were saying USC –Minor

A player takes action that is disruptive to the tournament or its participants. It may effect the comfort level of those around the individual, but determining whether this is the case is not required.
That is not the proper use of the infraction. This is neither disruptive to the event nor its participants. Sure it caused us some time for investigation and to fix it. The event was not dramatically affected. So we are not issuing USC-Minor.

Cheating was tossed around a bit. This also not cheating because Andy failed to meet all of the requirements. A rule was broken, advantage was gained, he was NOT aware that it was bad. Since all three requirements were not met we will not be removing Andy from the event with disqualification. It is important to understand that all three requirements must be met to disqualify someone for cheating.

We should not penalize this person for something that is general behavior we do not want. Please remember that because there is no penalty associated with this doesn’t mean you get to deviate from the policy and make one up in order to penalize unwanted behavior. We remind the player that its bad and not to do it again. If they choose to do it again we now can apply the IPG and appropriate fix which is grounds for USC-Cheating. Most of the time a stern talking to will be more effective at stopping players from unwanted actions.



You’re Head Judge of a PTQ. One of the players – who also happens to be a judge that you know – comes up to you and says, “Hey, Freddy is over there telling everyone how he ‘bent over and raped’ his last opponent. I don’t know about you, but I find that really offensive.”

Before you can say a word, Jorge, one of your event judges says, “Really? Again?!? I just warned him about that last round!” You confirm that Jorge did register an Unsporting Conduct – Minor for Freddy in the previous round.

What do you do (and, did Jorge get the initial penalty correct)?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

Thanks to everyone who participated in this most recent dip in the Knowledge Pool. A lot of discussion about how to handle this (obviously) sensitive subject. And, with our apologies, we offer up a rather lengthy “answer” – that goes well beyond just providing “the answer”. Please, take the time to read and understand this, as it’s a very important subject – for all of us, at any level, and any sort of event.

In order of occurrence, the original penalty by Jorge was correct – even if nobody else was complaining about the language Freddy used, Jorge is correct in stepping in and asking Freddy to stop using that type of language and assessing the USC:Minor.

For this occurrence, having been already assessed a USC:Minor, Freddy will be receiving another one, this time upgraded to a Game Loss as per the upgrade path for that penalty. Given that he is between rounds in this scenario, the Game Loss will apply to next game Freddy plays in this tournament (most likely Game 1 of the next round).

The number of people who felt the initial ruling may have been too lenient illustrates an important point; if nothing else, take this from the scenario: everyone is different, and we must respect that. Respecting different comfort levels is important, and doing so in a compassionate manner is important – even (especially?!) when you don’t share or understand someone’s discomfort with a situation.

Paul Ekman, a highly respected and honored psychologist, gives us this great quote:
“A test of your humanity is to be able to be compassionate with a patient who is afraid of something that you know there is no reason to fear. Suppose a patient is afraid that a procedure is going to be very painful, and you know it will not hurt. You have to recognize the patient’s fear and then act to reduce that fear. Do not brush it off as not worth your attention just because you know the fear is not based in reality. The patient is feeling fear; that is real. You do not feel the patient’s fear, but you must act compassionately to reduce it.”

A number of people wanted to move from USC:Minor to Major here, citing that Freddy had been told not use the language previously. It’s true that one example of UC – Major is “Fails to follow a direct instruction from a tournament official.” Let’s not be overzealous with our application of that. Typically, if a player is doing something they shouldn’t – often that’s a violation of the MTR that’s not specifically listed as an infraction in the IPG – then we explain why they shouldn’t repeat that behavior. That constitutes “a direct instruction from a tournament official.” Also, we may directly instruct a player in other areas: “Please don’t sit on the table, it might collapse” or “don’t run in the venue, you might knock someone or something over”. When a player ignores such direct instructions, that’s UC Major.

When we assess an Infraction from the IPG, and educate the player on their error, it does imply a direct instruction of “don’t do that again”; we might even clearly state that. However, if they do repeat that? It’s still the same infraction as before, and follows any upgrade path specified for that infraction. (Remember, not all infractions specify an upgrade path!) Note also that there are no upgrade paths that lead to DQ – that’s an artifact of long ago.

Often, when we’re faced with Unsporting Conduct, it’s appropriate to involve the TO, venue management, store owner, etc. We recommend these steps, in order:

de-escalate the situation, as appropriate;

inform the TO and welcome their involvement (or accept the lack thereof);

inform the player of any infraction;

either ensure they will correct the behavior, or – with the TO’s involvement – remove them from the venue.

A player crossed a boundary. As a judge, you are asserting that boundary. (Aim for “compassionate and respectful,” not “robotic and unfeeling.”) As a representative of the TO, you should understand any additional boundaries the TO may want to assert. If the TO is not willing to maintain the boundary set by tournament policies, challenge yourself to understand why, and – if it’s available to you – educate the TO. And recognize that each of these steps can be uncomfortable, so take good care of yourself along the way.


Word choice matters. Specific words affect different people in radically different ways. While we used the word “rape” in the scenario, that word and words like it can themselves be harmful. We added the warning for trauma trigger language after a reader brought up this potential problem. We’d like to thank him for his awareness and for raising ours, as this knowledge will help us all improve these forums, our tournaments, and beyond.

For more information, we highly recommend Tasha Jamison’s blog:


Thanks again for participating and we look forward to seeing you at the next Knowledge Pool scenario!

You can choose any color you want, as long as it’s black.

Aaron and Nadine are playing in a Legacy Grand Prix. Aaron has a Griselbrand and a Tidespout Tyrant in his graveyard. He announces, “I’m going to Exhume my Tyrant.” Nadine says, “OK, Exhume resolves. I choose my Shriekmaw“.

Aarons says “Oh, I didn’t realize you had that… then on resolution I’m going to pick my Griselbrand instead.” Nadine calls you over. What is your ruling?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

View Answer
Hello all! I’m very glad to see that everyone remembers there are no takeseys-backseys at Competitive REL! We’re all correct that Aaron is going to have to stick to his choice here. Now, on to the penalty.

Three options were discussed Game Rule Violation (i), Communication Policy Violation (ii) and No Penalty (iii).

Regarding i – Reading the IPG, we see that a GRV “…handles violations of the Comprehensive Rules…”. Tournament shortcuts are not part of the Comprehensive rules, they’re part of the MTR. As such, deviations from the shortcut guidelines do not qualify as GRVs.

Regarding ii – We have 4 rules that players must follow when communicating. They must answer judge questions completely and honestly, they must not represent derived or free information incorrectly, they must answer questions honestly regarding free information, and at Regular we consider derived information to be free information. None of these rules were violated by either player.

Regarding iii – Since neither player has done anything that qualifies as an infraction, we’re into the No Penalty Zone. We want to educate the players accordingly. Inform Aaron that he cannot change his mind at this point, and inform him that if he announces a choice before he is required to, that he will be obligated to stick to that choice unless his opponent takes an action before he would be required to make that choice.

So there we have it, no infraction has been committed so no penalty is issued, but Aaron doesn’t get to change his mind. This is an opportunity for education, but not one we need to penalize.

So… Where is he?

You’re walking the floor at a PTQ when you notice a table with only one player. You glance at the clock and see that just over 10 minutes have elapsed, so you step in, pick up the match slip, and ask the player across from you “Are you Anton or Nikolai?” He replies “Oh, Nikolai’s here. We’ve played game one already. He saw I was going to sideboard and I think he went to get a soda.” What do you do?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

View Answer
Thanks to everybody who participated this week! While the IPG says players not in their seats at 10 minutes into the round will be given a match loss, this pertains to players who have been absent since the beginning of the round. A player leaving their match in progress without a tournament official’s permission is guilty of slow play. The absent player will receive a warning, and the players will have two additional turns should their match go to extra time.

Kenneth Woo made a very good point that we’d like to highlight: If Nikolai won game one, this has a chance of being USC- Stalling. When Nikolai returns, a quick investigation to try to determine his motivations for leaving is a good idea.

Houston, We’ve Got a Bribe

Going into the last round of Swiss in a $5k cash tournament run at Competitive REL, you, the Head Judge, send your floor judges out to watch and listen for “unfortunate conversations” that might happen with the players battling to get into the Top 8. As the round is coming to a close, one of your floor judge approaches you with a situation she thinks is Bribery. You pull the players aside and begin an investigation.

Andre says that they sat down for their match, and before Game 1 had begun, Nick asked him if he wanted to do an even prize split. Andre declined because he thought he had a good match up. They played game 1 and game 2, both players taking a game. Andre says Nick then offered the prize split again. He says he took a few seconds to think about it, then said “Sure”. Nick then grabbed the results slip and filled it out as a 2-1 win for Andre. When asked if there had been any discussion about someone conceding, he answers that there was none.

When you question Nick, his story matches up with Andre’s story. When asked why he conceded, he answers that he knew Andre would get into the Top 8 with a win. He further explains that his record is 5-2 and Andre’s is 5-1-1. He had checked the standings before the round and knew he had no shot at the Top 8 even with a win, while a win would guarantee Andre a spot in the Top 8. He says he wanted to maximize how much cash he would get in the split, and Andre making Top 8 was the best way to do so.

Is there anything wrong with what Andre and Nick have done? If so, what infraction(s) have Andre and/or Nick committed?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

View Answer
Thank you judges for participating in the discussion on this Gold scenario this week. We honestly thought that there would be more disagreement, but most, if not all, of you agreed that this situation is not Bribery. And you would be correct.

Concessions/intentional draws and prize splits are allowed under the MTR. What would make it Bribery, is if you are using one to get the other (offer of a concession/draw to get a split, offer of a split to get a concession/draw). At a quick glance, you can see that the split was agreed to and then the concession made after. This is a situation though where it is important to still investigate and dig a little bit to be sure nothing else happened. It’s possible that they have talked about what would happen if either player wins and would both be aware of the potential outcomes. This by itself does not make either player guilty, but still must be looked at and you must use your best judgment to decide if one player made it clear they would concede if a prize split was agreed to.

Some have argued that Nick had an incentive to concede after the split was agreed to and that would mean he has committed Bribery. As human beings, incentives drive us to do everything in life. We work so that we can earn money to pay our bills, keep ourselves fed, and to fund hobbies. We partake in hobbies to be entertained. We go out for a couple drinks for social interaction. We rarely do something in life without an incentive. Simply having an incentive to do something does not constitute Bribery in all cases. Offering an incentive to get a match result or a prize split, however, is Bribery.