The entire concept of missing timing is based upon two things in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game. These two things also cause for something else, which would be the difficulty of knowing at what time you can use a card, and when you can’t. Mainly meaning with Summons of monsters.
What is Missing Timing?
So, there are, like previously noted, two main things that make a card effect miss timing. First of all, lets explain what it means. Missing timing, means it has an effect that activates at a specific time in the turn you’re in. However, due to other actions, effects or cards, it cannot activate in that time window. And it’s effect will therefore not be allowed to activate.
Now, the main reasons of a card missing timing is easy. There’s a rule, which barely anyone knows in the card game, yet is subconsciously always held to. A golden rule, you might say. It’s one of the two aspects that causes this phenomenon. This golden rule is as follows:
“When an action or chain is resolving, neither player can act until the resolve of said action or chain.
This is a very important rule, and like with every other rule, there are exceptions. For example, Bountiful Artemis and Abyss-scale of the Mizuchi. These are cards that can activate while a chain is resolving. But, it says so specifically on the card, so, it shouldn’t be that hard to find out.
Each time a Counter Trap Card resolves, immediately draw 1 card (during the Chain).
Abyss-scale of the Mizuchi
Equip only to a "Mermail" monster. It gains 800 ATK. When a Spell effect that was activated on your opponent's side of the field resolves, negate that effect, then send this card to the Graveyard.
Now, that is the main rule there is, that would cause the cards to miss timing. Now, you would say, that you then just wait until the chain resolves, and then use the card that would otherwise have missed timing. Unfortunately, that’s where the cardtext of said cards is important. Here are a couple of examples of different card texts, that may help to understand what I’m pointing at.
Peten the Dark Clown
When this card is sent to your Graveyard, you can remove this card from the Graveyard to Special Summon 1 "Peten the Dark Clown" from your hand or Deck.
Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
At the start of the Damage Step, if this card battles an opponent's monster: You can return both monsters to the hand (without damage calculation).
Ally of Justice Catastor
At the start of the Damage Step, if this card battles a non-DARK monster: Destroy that monster immediately (without damage calculation).
There are three different sorts of effect listed above. Optional “When” [Peten the Dark Clown], Optional “If” [Neo-Spacian Grand Mole] and Mandatory. As the name might suggest, optional effects are effects you can decide on using, yes or no, and mandatory effects will activate, when their conditions are met, even if you don’t want them to. Now, seen Mandatory Effects activate anyway, there is no use in making a difference with When and If for them. They are forced to activate, and when their timing were to be improper, game mechanics would make them start a new chain.
The optional effects, however, are not forced to activate. And that’s what I’ll explain next. The issue, which is the second of the two causes for missing timing, is Causality. And “If” Optional effect does not care, when it activates. It’s only requirement is that the conditions are met, for example, with Neo-Spacian Grand Mole, being in Battle with another monster. So, they wouldn’t miss timing, because they can just wait it out.
The issue is, however, with “When” Optional effects. Due to the fact, that they say “When”. Let’s take Peten the Dark Clown as an example. Its effect says “When this card is sent to your Graveyard, you can remove this card from the Graveyard to Special Summon 1 "Peten the Dark Clown" from your hand or Deck.”. This means, that at the exact time, that Peten is sent to the Graveyard, it will attempt to activate. Because, it says when, and when it does, it’ll try to activate. Now, in the case of for example Dark Hole. Dark Hole’s effect is “Destroy all Monsters on the field.”. Peten, and any other Monsters would be destroyed, and sent from the field to the Graveyard. That’s when Peten activates, and there’s nothing to stop it, mechanics-wise. So, Peten can activate and will Summon another on, by banishing itself, if the effect is allowed to resolve.
Now, a case where it cannot activate, it when Peten is used as a tribute for a Tribute Summon. The action that occurs, is that you send Peten to the Graveyard as a tribute, and again, at exactly that moment, it will once again, try to activate. But, you are in the middle of an action. Being, the Tribute Summon of a Monster. So, when we then get our Golden Rule back in view, it’ll say, that you cannot do anything while an action or chain resolves. In this case, our action of the Tribute Summon is resolving. And since Peten does not state it can activate while something resolves, it will be unab le to activate at that given moment. So, Peten cannot activate, and you’ll Tribute Summon the intended Monster. And you might think, “But, now that that is done, you can activate Peten now, right?” The answer is no. This is where Causality kicks in. Peten said, “When it is sent from the field to the Graveyard”, and as such, must activate at that exact moment. And since something was resolving at that time, it couldn’t have activated. Aka, it missed the timing to activate.
Et voila, the first example of missing timing. It’s a lot more easy, then it may seem. As soon as you’ve grasped the main view of it you should be fairly able to know what card will miss timing, and which won’t.
Does it affect anything else?
Also on other note, this is also the reason why you cannot use cards that negate a Non-Inherent Summon on the actual Summon itself. This all is for the same reasons. While a card effect, like Monster Reborn or Gorz, or Call of the Haunted, would Summon a Monster, it is a card effect that is resolving. And at the point where you would use the card that would negate the Summon itself [Note, I say, the Summon, and not the effect that summons], like Black Horn of Heaven, Thunder-King Rai-Oh and Solemn Warning could, the cards effect is still resolving.
So, if you activate Monster Reborn, and you have Black Horn of Heaven, you cannot use that Trap. Because, when the targeted Monster is Summoned, Monster Reborn still resolves, aka, Black Horn of Heaven would break that Golden Rule if it would activate. Hence, it cannot activate.
I hope, this has all been very helpful, and that you may now understand missing timing to its full extend that I have been able to pass on. If there are any questions or things you might want me to add or edit, feel free to PM me, or reply here on it.