There are three things that you are going to have to learn in order to
become a Tetris master. You will need to learn control, placement, and
speed; in that order. Speed will not do you any good if you can't place
the pieces in an appropriate space. Placement is useless if you can't
control where you want the piece to be placed. So once you learn control,
then practice your placement of the pieces, and finally, go for speed!
Learning some of the vocabulary used in Tetris and for the understanding
of this guide is also recommended.
Baseline - This is the average height
of all the blocks in your playing field.
Block - A block is the physical make-up
of the Tetris pieces. Tetris pieces are made up
of 4 blocks. Two blocks can not occupy the same area.
Cliff - A cliff is when there is a height
difference of 3 or more blocks from one column
to the next.
Double - This is when you complete two
lines with one piece. You can
make a double with any piece in the game.
Gap - A gap is an empty space
that has a block hovering above it. Generally, a
gap can easily be filled by sliding a piece left
or right into the gap.
Hold - This is used as a storage container
to hold a tetromino that you want to save or
that you do not have a good spot to place it in your playing
field. Not all Tetris games have this option.
Hole - A hole is an empty space
in a row that has been surrounded by blocks making it look impossible
Line - A line is made when you fill a row
with blocks. In any standard version of Tetris,
you will need to get 10 blocks in a row.
Next - This is an area on the screen that
shows you what your next piece is going to be.
Piece - This is what I call tetrominos.
Pit - This is a section of your playing
field that has cliffs on both sides of it. A
pit is 3 or more spaces deep and can only be filled
by using the "I" piece. It is required to make a pit if you
want to get a Tetris.
Playing Field - The playing field
is the area that you play in. It can also be referred to as the well.
In a standard game of Tetris, the size of the playing field is 10 spaces
wide and 20 spaces high.
Single - This is where you get 10 blocks
in a single row to complete a line. Singles are the
easiest to get.
Space - A space is just a unit of measurement.
A block is equal to one space. A space in the playing
field can either be empty, or filled with a block.
Tetris - This is when you clear 4 lines
at once. It can only be done with the "I" piece.
Tetromino - A piece that consists of
4 blocks. There are seven tetrominos used in Tetris.
These seven pieces are named after the letters that they resemble: I,
J, L, O, S, T, and Z.
Triple - This is when you place a piece
and it clears three lines at once. A triple can only
be made with the "I", "J", and "L" pieces.
Wall - A wall is either side of the well
or playing field.
Well - This is just another name for the
Control is the easiest step to learn. You simply need to know what the
controls are of the Tetris game that you are playing. If your game has
an instruction booklet, then the controls should be listed there. Many
games on a PC or mobile device will have the control settings in the option
menu, which they will sometimes also allow you to change the controls
to whatever buttons you want.
Moving The Piece Left And Right
The buttons used to move pieces left and right
and usually the left and right arrow keys. Most Tetris games will move
the piece all the way over to one side if you hold
the button down. Unless I'm placing a piece against a wall,
I generally count the number of spaces I want the
piece to move and that's how many times I tap the
If you are new to Tetris, then I suggest learning how to play on a
version that uses the ghost piece. A ghost piece indicates where your
Tetris piece is going to land. This makes it much
easier to line up the piece with where you want
it to go because it will show you right where it's going to land.
If you are playing Tetris on a video game console, then you'll probably
have two buttons for rotating the piece. One button
rotates it clockwise and the other button rotates it counter-clockwise.
Many of the Tetris games on the computer only have one rotation button,
which is usually to rotate it clockwise. Very few Tetris games only
allow you to rotate counter-clockwise. When you get to the point where
you gotten your speed up, then it is preferred to have both rotating
buttons. It is faster to press the CCW button once than to press the
CW button three times.
Depending on which Tetris game you are playing, there may be one or
two buttons that can be used to get your current falling piece
to the bottom of the playing field faster. One option is called the
soft drop. The soft drop only speeds up the falling rate while you're
holding the button down. Oddly enough, the other technique is called
the hard drop. When you push the hard drop button, then the piece
falls straight down and locks into place right away. It is preferable
to have a Tetris with the hard drop option, especially when you're going
Some Tetris games have a 'hold' feature. What this does is places your
falling piece in a holding cell for later use. If
you are just starting out, I'd suggest finding a version that has this
option. This is also useful for when you don't have a place to put the
piece that is falling.
Most Tetris games have a pause feature, because if you're like most
people then you know that life happens. The kids cry about something,
the dog wants out, the phone rings, dinner is cooking, and there's someone
at the door for you. If you are playing Tetris online against other
players, then there's probably not a pause button.
Get To Know Your Pieces
It's important to know the pieces that you are working
with. Tetris uses pieces made up of 4 blocks
each. These pieces are called tetrominoes.
There is a possibility of seven different tetrominoes
often referred to by a letter of the alphabet that they resemble the most.
Those pieces are "I", "J", "L",
"O", "S", "T", and "Z".
The "I" is four spaces long. It is the
only shape that is capable of making a Tetris,
which is clearing four lines with one piece.
Since it is the only way to get a Tetris, these
pieces are usually placed standing up. It is unusual
to find enough room to lay these pieces down. Also,
try not to stack these one space from either wall
unless you're planning on getting another "I" piece.
When starting the game out with an "I" piece, the only wrong
move would be to set it down standing up in the middle of the playing
field. Your best bet would be to lay it down in the middle. You
could stand it up one space from the wall which would
mark the area you will need to fill to get a Tetris.
Just make sure that if you do it this way that your next
piece isn't "S" or "Z".
The "J" piece is 3 blocks in a row with
the fourth block on the bottom-left side. I generally
place this piece standing upright. When placed upsidedown,
they are useful for filling gaps that are two spaces
deep. The "J" will hang off the left side of a cliff.
If you start with a "J" at the beginning of a game, then
the placement should depend on your next piece. If
your next piece is "S", then put the "J"
standing up on the right wall. If your next piece
is "Z", then lay the "J" down next to the left wall.
If your next piece is anything else, then it doesn't
really matter where you put it as long as you don't place it upside
The "L" piece is the mirror image of the "J". It
is also good for filling an area that is two spaces
deep and will hang off of the right side of a cliff.
Much like the "J" piece, the starting placement of "L"
should depend on your next piece. It will be the
opposite of "J". If your next piece is
"Z", then set the "L" piece standing up next to
the left wall. If "S" is next, then lay
the "L" down next to the right wall. If
any other piece is next, then
it doesn't matter where you put it as long as it's not upside down.
The "O" piece is a 2x2 square. It can not be rotated. Well,
it can, but it just rotates into the same position. The key to the "O"
piece is to always have a platform two spaces wide
in your playing field at all times so you
have a place to put this piece. I suggest not having
your platform 1 space away from the wall,
if you do, then you'll have to rely on the "I" piece to fill
the pit that would form next to the wall.
If you start the game out with an "O" piece, then just put
it anywhere. Although, it's probably best to throw it next to one of
The "S" is two block high with an extra
block on the top-right and bottom-left. The "S"
and "Z" pieces are the most annoying piece in the game. These
are more commonly placed standing up. While playing, you need to always
have a single block step for the placement of these
pieces or else you may end up have a gap
in the board.
This is a terrible piece to start the game out with. If you have a
hold container, put it there and hope that your next
piece is better. If you don't have a hold container,
then stand it up and put it against the right wall.
This will leave a gap. Just hope that one of your
next pieces is "I", "J", "L",
or "T" so that you can slide the piece
under it to fill the gap. If your next
piece is another "S", then stack that on top of the first
piece. If you get an "O", then stack it
on the opposite wall. If by some chance you get a
"Z", then I'm sorry. Stand it up on the left wall
and wait until you get a piece to slide under that
one as well.
The "T" piece is three blocks long with
the fourth block placed in the middle. This piece
is the most versatile piece of all of them, as it can fit in the most
amount of spaces or gaps. It also
has the unique ability of doing a t-spin. A t-spin is when you leave
a gap that can still be accessed from the side and
you use this piece and spin it to fill that gap. In
the more recent versions of tetris, if you use this t-spin method and
clear a line with it, only then are you given the
credit for the t-spin and you can really rack up some points.
The ideal starting placement for the "T" is upside down right
in the middle.
The "Z" is the mirror image of the "S", so everything
mentioned in the "S" piece's description also implies to this
If your first piece is "Z", then place
it in your hold container if you have one. Otherwise,
stand it up and put it against the left wall which
will leave a gap. Just hope that one of your next
pieces is "I", "J", "L", or "T"
so that you can slide the piece under it to fill the gap.
If your next piece is another "Z", then
stack that on top of the first piece. If you get
an "O", then stack it on the opposite wall.
If by some chance you get a "S", then I'm sorry. Stand it
up on the right wall and wait until you get a piece
to slide under that one too.
Maintain A Good Baseline
You're probably asking yourself, what is a baseline?
The baseline is the average of height of your playing
field. You don't want your baseline to look
like a mountain range. Yet on the other hand, it is impossible to keep
your baseline looking like the flat prairie land. It should look more
like the country hillsides. A good baseline will
have the following qualities:
The Two Block
Always try to maintain a place to put the "O" piece. That
means always having somewhere on the board that has two spaces
in a row that are at the same height. This could also be used to place
the "J" or "L" pieces onto.
A Step Up
Somewhere along the top of your baseline, there
should always be a left step and a right step for the "S"
and "Z" pieces. A step is a height difference of one space
from one column to the next, just like a staircase. A left step will
hold the "S" piece while the "Z" piece fits onto
a right step. If you have a platform next to the step, the it will support
both of the "S" and "Z" pieces at the same time,
as shown in the picture above.
Cliffs are considered to be three empty spaces
or more from one column to the next. If you make a cliff
on both sides of a single column, than it can only be filled with the
"I" piece. You should keep you baseline
set to the point where you don't have to rely on a single piece
to fill any open spaces because the chance of getting
that piece is only 14%. If you use a "J"
or "L" piece, you'll be left with a hole
in your playing field. It is alright to
make a cliff as long as the other side is open,
but then your goal should be to get rid of the cliff
by filling in the area next to it. If you have two or more cliffs,
then your just asking for trouble. If you are trying to make a Tetris,
then having one cliff is fine. Most players will
align their cliff for a Tetris
against one of the walls.
If you're just starting out and playing on a slow level, then make
it a habit to look at your next piece and make sure
that you have a place to put it. If you can see a place to put it in
2 or 3 different spots, then that's even better.
Watch Other People Play
There are probably countless videos on YouTube and other videos across
the web where you can watch people play Tetris. I suggest trying to
predict where they are going to place their piece
and then evaluate why the player put it there if it was not where you
think it should have gone.
What If I Make A Mistake?
From time to time, you're going to get a piece that
is not going to have a good place to be set on the playing
field, thus leaving a gap or hole
in your playing field. Other times, you may just press the wrong button
and the piece lands and sticks out like a sore thumb.
The nice thing about Tetris is that if you make a mistake, then it can
be fixed. All you need to do is to know how to fix it.
How To Fill A Hole
Do you have a hole in your playing
field, or multiple holes? Read on to learn how
to work your way back to the bottom of the playing
field. Obviously, when there is a hole, you
have to clear all the lines above it, but that's
only half of the solution. The other half of the trick is to be aware
of where your hole is and try not to stack
any pieces directly above the hole.
This way, when you clear the line above the hole,
then the line will disappear and the hole
will become a pit which can now be filled. If you
have more than one hole, then just try to open up
the hole closest to the top of the screen by making
lines to clear all the blocks
directly above the hole. Sometimes, you may not
have a choice but to place a piece above the hole
that you are trying to get rid of. All this means is that you are going
to have to clear a couple extra lines before you
can get to that hole.
Show Me The Points
In most Tetris games, the big points come from scoring a Tetris.
In case you don't already know, a Tetris is when
you clear four lines at once. This can only be done
with the "I" piece.
Once you have the controls down and you can get the pieces
placed where you want them, then you can work on speed. I suggest finding
a version of Tetris that keeps track of your high scores, that way, you
can always be competing against yourself. If you're not improving over
your old score, then you need to figure out why.