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Math explains why beating 'Tetris' is basically impossible

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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]

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