Math explains why beating 'Tetris' is basically impossible

You're never going to beat Tetris. Sorry. You might be asking why I'm so pessimistic and even though that's perfectly natural, PBS' Game/Show will back me up here. While the seven multicolored falling bricks (officially called "tetrominoes") all fit together pretty nicely, they only occupy a space that's eight tiles wide when fully combined. Coupled with the size of the playing space -- the "well," as it's called, is ten tiles wide -- there's always going to be room for screw-ups that are out of your control. There's a ton of math, studies of probability and statistics to explain it all, too. As host Jamin Warren tells it (citing a research paper from 1996), failure is due in no small part to how the "bag" randomly generates pieces that're dropping.

Over a long enough game, the bag's going to screw you over and drop tetrominoes that make gaps that you won't be able to fill. Specifically, a nasty run of "S" and "Z" shaped pieces that'll ruin your up-to-that-point ideal flow is pretty much inevitable -- and even playing a game exclusively with the aforementioned pieces would hit a fail state in 70,000 turns. It's a cruel joke, sure, but that hasn't stopped the game from appearing on countless platforms, sides of buildings or T-shirts for almost 31 years.

[Image credit: Getty Images/alengo]