Breaking the 10-minute barrier in TGM1

20 January 2023

The following is a DeepL-assisted translation of this guide. I don’t speak Japanese at all, so I hope my localization is more or less accurate. I’ve left in some editorial notes.

The long way to 9 minutes

There are many things I would like to write about the road to Gm, but one thing occurred to me as I began to write. I thought that it might be more convincing if written by someone who can achieve Gm, but on the other hand, it is impossible to describe in real time what kind of problems I am having and what kind of techniques I am acquiring in order to get closer to Gm.

With this in mind, I decided to create a section about the “long way to 9 minutes” that I am actually aiming for and struggling with at the moment. I am going to add what I have been thinking about and what I will think about in the future in order to achieve my goal of 9 minutes. However, if I don’t make much progress, this page won’t progress either, and it may not have any credibility.

So it should mainly focus on time-saving techniques. I hope it will be helpful to those who finish too slowly to achieve Gm. I would be happy to write about stacking as well.

Play fast

Strive to place every piece quickly. When faced with a bad choice, stack to make your life easier later. Suppose, for instance, you are forced to place an early S or Z in the flat. If you place it horizontally, you will either mess up your stack or lose time. If you must make a hole, try to put it on the far right. You will have to clear a line to free up the well, which may lose time; but if you can execute a recovery Tetris,My translation of the phrase “テトリス復活”, which appears in other machine translations as “Tetris revival” and similar. It refers to freeing the well with a Tetris instead of a single. you lose no time at all.

Don’t get level stopped

As you may know, level is usually increased by 1 for each block placed, and by 1 for each line cleared. However, you must clear a line to progress from x99 to x00 and from 998 to 999. The time loss due to being “level stopped” can add up quickly if you are careless. There are ten level stops, so an average five-second loss adds up to 50 seconds over the course of a run. This is easy to forget, especially when you’re in trouble — so you always want to keep it in mind.I found it helpful to get in the habit of glancing at the level in between pieces every ten seconds or so.

Keep singles to a minimum

In Sega Tetris, clearing a line gave you some time to relax. In TGM, every line clear (whether single or Tetris) loses 0.7 seconds, so you want to minimize their number, ideally only clearing Tetrises.Piece RNG at level stops makes this completely unrealistic. 777’s video record, thirteen seven seconds ahead of second place at the time of writing, still clears 15 singles.

An ideal 100-level section averages 72 pieces and 28 cleared lines (since 72 * 4 = 288 and 72 + 28 = 100.) This can be done in seven Tetrises, ten triples, or fourteen doubles. Each option is tabulated below.

Line clears Total delay (s) Time loss (s)
7 Tetrises 4.9 0
10 triples 7.0 2.1
14 doubles 9.8 4.9
28 singles 19.6 14.7

How much time do singles lose? If you clear 4 singles instead of a Tetris, you lose 2.1 seconds, or a little over half a second per single, about the same as a single hesitation.

Clearing 4 lines by… Time loss (s) Time loss per line clear (s)
Tetris 0 0
triple + single 0.7 0.350
2 doubles 0.7 0.350
double + 2 singles 1.4 0.467
4 singles 2.1 0.525

Below is an example. Should the L clear a triple, or should it be skimmed (clearing a single) to prepare for a Tetris? In 20G, when the bad stack may make Tetrises difficult, I would choose the triple. Either option loses a similar amount of time, so prioritize the health of the stack.

Figure 1: Should the L clear a triple or a single?

About stacking high in low-G

Intuitively, stacking high makes sense, but stacking too high will backfire. If you do not die the moment the RNG takes a bad turn, you will likely be forced to clear a lot of singles to stay alive, which are likely to lose more time than stacking high gains.

Using the same 72 pieces/28 lines assumption, stacking on average one level higher will save 72 frames, or 1.2 seconds, per section. This gain is cancelled out by just two unnecessary line clears. So it’s better to stack at your comfort level until you are close to the 10-minute barrier.

Stacking high only saves significant time before level 300. If you can stack higher without making any more mistakes, you will save about 10 seconds for every 3 levels you stack higher.

(Ed: Deleted a section illustrating time gains from an extreme example, largely because the numbers made no sense to me.)

Fix early mistakes in the middle game

In the spirit of stacking quickly and stacking high, when you make a hole at the bottom in early sections, it is best to stack over it and wait until higher-G sections to fix it.

Look ahead, but don’t second-guess yourself

In earlier iterations of Tetris, it was very important to look at the next piece before making a decision. This applies in TGM as well, but as you approach the 10-minute barrier, it is best to avoid changing your mind based on the next piece, since this loses time. Sometimes, of course, you have to, but it is better to keep your changes small and prefer rotations to moving left or right.

Charge the DAS

TGM uses a delayed auto-shift of 16 frames, or about a quarter-second. This means that if you hold right, the piece will move once immediately, wait 16 frames, then move continuously. This delay can be shortened or eliminated by “charging the DAS,” or buffering directional inputs during the 30-frame spawn delay.

This is especially important in high-G, since uncharged DAS frames count against the limited time you have to place a piece. Bad placements are often caused by failing to charge the DAS.

In order to consistently take advantage of this, it is of course necessary to look ahead. Figure out where the next piece is going to go while you’re placing the current piece.


Even if you are stacking without hesitation and charging the DAS, it may still be possible to save time by placing pieces more efficiently. Consider the following example. You would like to place the S in the eighth and ninth columns.

Figure 3: What is the most efficient way to place the S in the eighth and ninth columns?

Tapping right four times wastes an unimaginable amount of time. Charging the DAS is better, but the order of operations matters:

A similar technique can be used for T, rotating the other way:

Figure 4: Finesse for a T in the same situation

(Ed: The next paragraph and list are my additions.)

Saving lateral movement by rotating in this way is perhaps the most basic form of finesse. This requires knowledge of the rotation system, of course. Fortunately, ARS is easier to remember than SRS:

Finesse in 20G is slightly different, but the above examples still work.

Being aware of finesse opportunities will naturally save time. If your first half (0-500) is slower than 6 minutes, by stacking quickly and using finesse you may be able to shorten it by as much as 30 seconds.

Finesse can also be used elsewhere. Consider the following example. You want to place the L in the eighth and ninth columns in 20G. What do you do?

Figure 5: How do you place this L in the eighth and ninth columns in 20G?

With appropriate finesse, you can “cross the gap” as follows: DAS right and IRS left, rotate left again before reaching the right wall, let go of right, then rotate left a final time.

(Ed: Here the page links to this finesse guide, which I have yet to translate.)

When digging, aim to clear lines in groups

As we know, singles lose time. Therefore, when downstacking, try to clear multiple lines at once. Consider the following example.

Figure 6: Aiming for a single clear

Clearing a single with an I, even to set up later clears, is suboptimal. It is better to wait for a J to clear a double, or to place a Z in the seventh to ninth columns to set up an L triple. You might even place a J on top of the Z to set up a Tetris.

Of course, this example is contrived, but you should strive to clear one more line at any given time, both in the early and late game.

(Ed: Deleted a second, redundant example.)

Finish low

Pieces left over at the end are wasted time. Of course, finishing with no stack at all is unrealistic, but strive to leave as little as you can. The above guidelines about downstacking still apply here, of course; clearing singles is no more helpful than leaving pieces on the board.