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Block Party: Honda’s Tetris techniques for Christmas motoring

by Antony Ingram
14 December 2023 2 min read
Block Party: Honda’s Tetris techniques for Christmas motoring
(Getty Images)

Certain terms transcend the genre from which they emerged. You don’t need to be a sailor to describe someone as being in the doldrums, and everyone knows what a hat-trick of things are without touching a football. And if someone describes packing their belongings as a game of Tetris, you can probably picture the different coloured shapes even if you’ve never been near an arcade machine.

Apparently, Honda isn’t satisfied just leaving it as a throwaway phrase, though, so this Christmas the company drafted in a professional Tetris player to help you pack your boot with all the paraphernalia of the season. We’re not making that up, either – Honda created a whole page on its website with advice from Dan Vuong, UK Tetris champion in 2021 and 2022.

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(Getty Images)

You’d be forgiven for thinking people had long since stopped playing Tetris. It was launched in 1985, making it truly ancient in gaming media terms, where even games from ten years ago can seem a bit old-hat. The world is on its ninth generation of video game consoles since 1972, after all; for context, there have been eleven generations of Honda Civic in exactly the same timeframe, and think how ancient a mid-’80s, third-generation Civic seems today.

But like a traditional game such as chess, the popularity of Tetris has endured, and for many of the same reasons: It’s simple enough that anybody can play it, it’s tricky enough that there’s a huge skill gulf between beginners and experts, it requires strategy and forward-thinking, and above all, it’s still just as fun as the day it was launched.

Anyway, Vuong is apparently the UK’s best player right now, and he recommends several tips based on similar strategies he’d apply in the game. Some of these seem obvious, like putting the big, bulky stuff right in the corners of the boot, much as you’d do with the game’s “O-block,” or the square-shaped piece, while others invite more creativity, such as treating soft, flexible items like the S- and Z-shaped blocks in Tetris, which you can squeeze into gaps you might not expect.

“Playing Tetris has shown me that not every decision you make will be correct,” Vuong says. “But it will constantly teach you how to create better, more efficient solutions to any problem you might face. When packing items into a car, you can think of it in the same way: If something doesn’t fit, you can make it work, whether that is rotating a big box or rearranging the order you have placed items in.”

Honda then has a few more tips of its own on ensuring you don’t overload your car (all the more important with a classic, incidentally, which may not be as well suited to shifting heavier loads as a modern vehicle), as well as avoiding blocking windows to ensure you’re safe and legal.

A lot of the packing ideas simply involve a bit of common sense, but it’s a fun idea for the season, and if you’re spatially challenged, it could prove quite useful. And at the very least, perhaps it’s given you an excuse to play Tetris for the first time in years. You can call it practice…

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