A player intentionally plays slowly in order to take advantage of the time limit.
If the slow play is not intentional, please refer to Tournament Error — Slow Play instead.
The key thing to look for when issuing a penalty for Stalling is intent. If there wasn’t intent on the part of the player, then the appropriate infraction is Slow Play.
- A. A player has two lands in their hand, no options available to significantly affect the game, and spends excessive time “thinking” about what to do to eat up time on the clock.
A player encounters a situation where they realize that there’s no significant play available, but knows the opponent has no way of verifying this. The player intentionally acts as though they have difficult options to consider in an effort to use up time. Here there is a difference between “bluffing” and Stalling. In the case of bluffing, the motivation is not to eat up clock time. However, excessive time ‘thinking’ in order to bluff is Slow Play.
- B. A player is ahead in games and significantly slows down their pace of play so the opponent has little chance to catch up.
A player wins the first game and realizes that instead of winning a second game, they could waste the time that the opponent would need to catch up by intentionally playing slowly.
- C. A player playing slowly appeals a warning in an attempt to gain advantage by having more time to make a decision.
A player tries to take advantage of a tournament’s appeals process in order to steal some extra time to think. For example, with only two minutes left in a match and facing a tough decision, a player appeals a minor ruling knowing that doing so will provide at least five minutes of thinking before the Head Judge can respond to the call. The player knows that his match will afterward receive at least a five-minute extension, so he thinks he can abuse the appeals process as a means of buying time.Protip – judges can help prevent players from committing this infraction with a little pre-emptive care! Often, a wily player out to commit the above-described infraction will do so by appealing the Warning he’s receiving for committing the infraction Slow Play itself. So, if you give a Slow Play warning to a player that they then appeal, you should instruct the players to continue playing while you get the Head Judge. By telling the players to continue to play, you’ll prevent any possibility of a player getting away with this kind of clock manipulation. And ask another judge to watch to make sure they follow the instructions.
- D. A player intentionally mulligans slowly before the third game in an attempt to make it harder for their opponent to win in time.
After splitting the match 1-1, a player who is playing for a draw against an opponent who needs the win may decide to take their time sideboarding, shuffling, and mulliganing to eat up time in an effort to force the match to a draw.
- E. A player losing a game starts slowing down the pace of play in an attempt to run out the clock.
A player knows that they are about to lose the current game, but realizes it is possible to draw the match if the opponent is unable to “finish them off” in time. Knowing that a draw is better than a loss, that player begins to slow their rate of play to below a reasonable pace to deny the opponent the time needed.