How to Get Better at Tetris


Tetris is a classic video game that has a large competitive scene and dedicated fanbase. While there are many different versions of Tetris, the basic components are always the same. You score points by filling in rows, which is done by rotating 7 different shapes to make complete rows out of your shapes. Each row that you fill in disappears immediately and the pieces fall faster as you play. To get better at Tetris, you need to master the essentials of maintaining a mound, leaving a well open, and scoring a Tetris by clearing 4 rows at once. All of this requires a masterful balancing act between leaving room to maneuver and utilizing the line pieces to score. Once you get the basics down, you can practice complex moves and strategies like hyper-tapping, tucking, and spinning to really step your game up.

Part 1
Manipulating Pieces and Scoring

Manipulating Pieces and Scoring on How to Get Better at Tetris

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Start a game of Tetris and simply rotate each block. Note how each individual piece moves and commit the number of times that you need to press the button to turn a piece a certain way to memory. Knowing the order will give you free time to look at the preview box, mound, and well since you won’t need to monitor a piece while rotating it.[1]At higher levels of play, players don’t even look at the pieces as they fall. They know exactly how many times they have to turn a piece and only pay attention to moving it left or right.

Manipulating Pieces and Scoring on How to Get Better at Tetris

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As soon as you have a piece lined up with the slot where it belongs, look at the preview box on the top or side of your screen to figure out what piece is coming next. This will help you plan your next move and make it easier to determine how you want to play the board.[2]Tip: Some versions of Tetris havea “bank” function where youcan press a button and send apiece in the preview pane to thebank for later use. Use this tosave your I pieces for Tetris orto throw away pieces you can’tcleanly place at the currentmoment.Tip: Some versions of Tetris have a“bank” function where you canpress a button and send a piece in thepreview pane to the bank for lateruse. Use this to save your I piecesfor Tetris or to throw away pieces youcan’t cleanly place at the currentmoment.Tip: Some versions of Tetris have a“bank” function where you can press abutton and send a piece in the preview paneto the bank for later use. Use this to saveyour I pieces for Tetris or to throw awaypieces you can’t cleanly place at thecurrent moment.Tip: Some versions of Tetris have a “bank” function where you canpress a button and send a piece in the preview pane to the bank forlater use. Use this to save your I pieces for Tetris or to throw awaypieces you can’t cleanly place at the current moment.Tip: Some versions of Tetris have a “bank” function where you can press abutton and send a piece in the preview pane to the bank for later use. Usethis to save your I pieces for Tetris or to throw away pieces you can’tcleanly place at the current moment.For example, if you have a tall mound and you’re debating on whether you need to burn some rows or not, checking for an I piece can save you from unnecessary burning.

Manipulating Pieces and Scoring on How to Get Better at Tetris

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Part of getting better at Tetris is adjusting to the way that pieces drop at different speeds as the levels progress. As the levels increase, you’ll need to move faster, build smaller mounds, and rotate pieces more accurately. Play on marathon mode when practicing alone to get used to the way levels progress.[3]Games of competitive Tetris usually start at level 5 or 10. If you’re already pretty good with the basics, go ahead and start your marathon runs from these positions.

Manipulating Pieces and Scoring on How to Get Better at Tetris

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While the scoring systems vary, every version of Tetris awards the highest score for clearing 4 rows of bricks at once. The only way to do this is to build up a mound that is at least 4 rows tall while leaving a single column completely open for the I piece. When you finally get an I piece, place it vertically in the column that you left open to score a “Tetris” and get the most points possible.[4] Scoring in Tetris refers to the number of rows that you clear at a time. A single is when you clear 1 row, a double is 2 rows, a triple is 3 rows, and a Tetris is 4 rows. You get a huge set of bonus points for scoring a Tetris. In competitive Tetris, the term “Tetris rate” refers to the percentage of your points that come from scoring Tetrises. If your Tetris rate is over 50%, you’re doing really well.

Manipulating Pieces and Scoring on How to Get Better at Tetris

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If you ever misplace a piece, dig it out by clearing the rows around it. Do this by completing the rows to make them disappear. Score singles, doubles, and triples above and underneath the obscured section to clear the column out instead of trying to score a Tetris on top of it.[5] As you level up in Tetris, the rate at which the pieces fall increases. This means that it’s more advantageous to lose some points early on by clearing a well out for a Tetris than it is to build Tetrises on top of a mound. Scoring singles, doubles, or triples to clear a well that you accidentally covered is called “digging” or “cleaning.”

Part 2
Building, Burning, and Dropping Pieces

Building, Burning, and Dropping Pieces on How to Get Better at Tetris

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The long piece and T-shaped piece always rotate to the right of the screen when you spin them. This means that you need more space on the right side of the screen to move pieces as the game progresses. Start each game by layering pieces on the left side to keep the right side open. Build up rows of pieces and leave the rightmost column open until you have 4 solid rows. Once you have a long piece (called an I piece), drop it in the column and start over again.[6]Tip: The official name for the Iblock is “straighttetromino,” but the blocks arecommonly referred to as lettersto make them easy to remember.Many players also call the Ipieces bars, lines, or bluepieces.Tip: The official name for the I blockis “straight tetromino,” but theblocks are commonly referred to asletters to make them easy to remember.Many players also call the I piecesbars, lines, or blue pieces.Tip: The official name for the I block is“straight tetromino,” but the blocks arecommonly referred to as letters to make themeasy to remember. Many players also call theI pieces bars, lines, or blue pieces.Tip: The official name for the I block is “straight tetromino,” butthe blocks are commonly referred to as letters to make them easy toremember. Many players also call the I pieces bars, lines, or bluepieces.Tip: The official name for the I block is “straight tetromino,” but theblocks are commonly referred to as letters to make them easy to remember. Manyplayers also call the I pieces bars, lines, or blue pieces. In Tetris, a “well” refers to the column that you leave open to score while the other cells on a row are getting filled. Lay I pieces horizontally when you get them early on to build your mound. If you start with a Z or S piece, you’ll need to leave an opening on the bottom row. Place it in the middle so that you can tuck a J or L piece into the open cell.

Building, Burning, and Dropping Pieces on How to Get Better at Tetris

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You lose a game of Tetris when the pieces stack all the way to the ceiling of the playing field. If you’ve covered multiple wells on accident or left too many pieces hanging, you’ll need to “burn” a few rows to lower the size of your mound and give yourself more room to work. As soon as you realize that the mound is getting too big for you to safely maneuver pieces around, start clearing rows by completing them however you can to make it smaller.[7] When you complete a row, it disappears. Making rows disappear will make your mound smaller. “Clearing,” “digging,” and “burning” have different connotations in terms of the player’s intentions, but they’re all just different ways of saying “make rows disappear.” Sometimes, you simply won’t get an I piece for the first 20-30 turns of the game. This will require a lot of burning early on to keep your mound manageable. Adjust the amount of burning you do as you level up. As the pieces move faster with every level, the amount of space that you’ll need to move pieces will increase. RNG stands for “random number generator.” You will hear players complain about RNG when they go a long time without an I piece and have to cover the well.

Building, Burning, and Dropping Pieces on How to Get Better at Tetris

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Competitive Tetris gives you bonus points for placing pieces more quickly. Increase the speed that you drop pieces into place by pressing down on your joystick or keyboard and holding it while the piece travels. Instead of pausing to rotate a piece, rotate the piece while it falls.[8] The points that you accrue over the course of a match will add up quite a bit. Soft drop whenever you comfortably can to increase your score. When you hold a button or stick down while you place a piece, you are performing a “soft drop.”

Building, Burning, and Dropping Pieces on How to Get Better at Tetris

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On some versions of Tetris, you can press up on your joystick or keyboard to drop a piece instantly. In timed Tetris, utilize the hard drop to place a piece as fast as you can. As soon as you get a piece, rotate it to match the slot you need. Move it left or right until it is floating over the position that you want to place it and press up. The piece will instantly shoot to the bottom of the screen where you were hovering.[9]The most popular version of competitive Tetris is played on Nintendo's Tetris. There is no hard drop function in this version of the game.

Part 3
Pulling off Complex Moves

Pulling off Complex Moves on How to Get Better at Tetris

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If you play a T, J, L, Z, or S piece in a way where there is an open space underneath it, you’ve created an overhang. Because there is a delay between a piece moving down one cell and setting on a row beneath it, you can rotate or move a piece into these open spaces by pressing the rotation button right before it settles. This is called “tucking,” and it is a necessary move to know if you want to get out of tough situations.[10]When you tuck a piece after performing a hard drop, it is called a zangi-move.[11]

Pulling off Complex Moves on How to Get Better at Tetris

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The T-spin is a tough move that can get you out of tight spots if you can master it. Because of the delay before a piece settles, you can rotate a T piece into a slot at the last moment to fit it in unexpected ways. To do this, press the rotate button right before a T piece settles and it will spin into a slot that it otherwise wouldn’t have fit into.[12]Tip: You can spin any piece thatcan be rotated. The reason theT-spin is so important though isbecause the T can be rotated tofill in open cells under the S,Z, L, and J pieces while those 4can only be oriented in onedirection.Tip: You can spin any piece that canbe rotated. The reason the T-spin isso important though is because the Tcan be rotated to fill in open cellsunder the S, Z, L, and J pieces whilethose 4 can only be oriented in onedirection.Tip: You can spin any piece that can berotated. The reason the T-spin is soimportant though is because the T can berotated to fill in open cells under the S,Z, L, and J pieces while those 4 can only beoriented in one direction.Tip: You can spin any piece that can be rotated. The reason the T-spinis so important though is because the T can be rotated to fill in opencells under the S, Z, L, and J pieces while those 4 can only be orientedin one direction.Tip: You can spin any piece that can be rotated. The reason the T-spin is soimportant though is because the T can be rotated to fill in open cells underthe S, Z, L, and J pieces while those 4 can only be oriented in one direction. For example, if there is a gap created by an overhang on your mound where a T brick could fit from the side, you wouldn’t be able to drop it directly in. You could, however, lower it next to the opening and the rotate it at the last minute to settle the cell that sticks out snuggly into the opening. The T spin cannot accurately be performed if you don’t have the rotations for the T piece memorized. Tucking generally refers to simply sliding a piece, while spinning it refers to rotating it into a slot. The principles behind the 2 moves are the same though—you’re filling in a hidden slot by moving at the last possible second.

Pulling off Complex Moves on How to Get Better at Tetris

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On classic versions of Tetris, the O block cannot be rotated. In some newer versions, the O block can be rotated right before it lands. This will allow you to squeeze the O block right into a space that is blocked by an overhanging piece. Press the rotation button right before the O block lands to spin it.[13]

Pulling off Complex Moves on How to Get Better at Tetris

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At levels higher than 15, the game will drop pieces at such a high rate that you’ll have less than 1 second to rotate and place them. To save time, learn to hyper-tap by tapping a button repeatedly instead of holding it down to move a piece left or right. When you get to higher levels, tapping the button will be more efficient than holding it down.[14]Hyper-tapping can cause a lot of strain on your hands and wrists. Take breaks in between practice sessions to preserve your body.