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Are tactics the same thing as strategy?


Some interesting nuggets of wisdom from Pandolfini’s Ultimate Guide to Chess. Make no mistake, the insights we can draw from this book transcend the chess board.

Are tactics the same thing as strategy?

The two terms are often confused and misused. At the beginning of the lesson I described tactics as local operations. For the most part, strategy refers to an overall plan, while tactics signify the individual actions needed to bring about that plan. Strategy tends to be long-term, tactics short-term. Strategy is usually general, tactics specific.

Attack and Defence

Defenders naturally focus on responding to an attack rather than a mistake, so they sometimes allow their opponents to play erroneously with impunity. A mistake by the defender, on the other hand, is more likely to be fatal, since attackers are usually more attuned to the possibilities of such lapses, having already factored them into their plans. Attackers generally have some sense of what they aim to do ahead of time, whereas defenders aren’t quite as sure what may hit until it happens.

Are attacks and threats the same thing?

Not really. You’re attacking something if you’re in position to capture it, even if it’s not desirable to do so. You’re threatening something if you’re in position to capture or exploit it to your explicit advantage. Indeed, a threat is an attempt to gain advantage, generally by inflicting some immediate harm on the enemy position. Most commonly, a threat is designed to win material, either by capturing for nothing or by surrendering less force than you gain. So an attack can be good, but not all the time. A threat is always good, unless it’s a false threat that enables the opponent to respond in a way that improves his situation.