The Next Step

There’s quite a bit more to Tetris than just spinning Tetriminos. Learning all of these key concepts will make you a more well-rounded Tetris player, and soon you’ll find yourself at the top of the leaderboards.

The Hold Queue

Ever get a Tetrimino that you just don’t know what to do with? Take care of the problem by using the Hold Queue—the place to stash a Tetrimino that you can’t find a good place for. The Hold Queue is the circle next to the upper-left corner of the Matrix. When you begin a game, the Hold Queue is empty; to put a Tetrimino into it, press the SHIFT key. That piece will jump into the Hold Queue and the next Tetrimino in the Next Queue will begin to fall. The next time you hit the SHIFT key, the piece that is falling currently will be replaced by the piece in the Hold Queue.

When the action gets really fast, you can also use the Hold Queue to buy yourself a little time. If you can’t find a place for the Tetrimino that’s falling, wait until it falls most of the way down, then swap it out for the Tetrimino in the Hold Queue, which will begin its descent at the top of the Matrix.

Tip: Be careful: if you swap the piece out from the Hold Queue, you have to use it right away—you can’t swap it back! Using the Hold Queue correctly is one of the keys to becoming a great Tetris player—practice using it a lot and watch your scores go up and up.

The Next Queue

The concept of the Next Queue is simple enough: as you play, you can see the next five Tetriminos that will fall. But with so much else to pay attention to, the hard part is actually putting the Next Queue to good use.

There are two basic ways to get value out of the Next Queue. The first is to see which Tetrimino immediately follows the one that is currently falling. Knowing that, you can make better decisions about where to drop the current one. Or, you may see that the Tetrimino in the Hold Queue would work better with the next Tetrimino to drop.

Tip: The other way to make use of the Next Queue is to watch it for critical pieces, such as I-Tetriminos for Tetrises and T-Tetriminos for T-Spins. If you’ve set up a big point-getter such as one of these, you need to know how many Tetriminos will fall before you can perform the payoff move.

The Ghost Piece

Glimpse into the future with the Ghost Piece, the shaded representation of where the current Tetrimino will land if you don’t move it. The Ghost Piece is most helpful for lining up Hard and Soft Drops, especially when the stack is very low. And as the Tetrimino falls via a Soft Drop, glance at the Next Queue to start planning where to place the next Tetrimino. This kind of combined application of all the different techniques is what makes good players great.

Tip: The Ghost Piece can also be deceiving. It will show you only where a Tetrimino will go if it falls straight down and stops. But because you can continue to move Tetriminos side-to-side after they land, you may be able to squeeze into a space that the Ghost Piece never showed you. This goes especially for T-Spins, where the Ghost Piece will never display the final resting spot of a T-Tetrimino.

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