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The Difference Between Chess Strategy and Tactics

Tactics and Strategy are often confused by chess beginners and novices. Here is an explanation of the two.


A tactic is a short sequence of moves, usually involving an attack or capture, that attempts to make an immediate tangible gain. Tactics are the first thing you look for when considering any move. The common tactics have been given names to distinguish them. Some of the most common ones are:


When you aren't able to take advantage of a tactic, you turn to strategy. A strategy is a long term plan or idea. It is usually based on positional considerations, rather than attacks and captures. Some of the common positional elements that form the basis for strategy are:

Tactics and strategy are intertwined with one another. Strategic moves often have the objective of setting up future tactical maneuvers, and vise versa.

For the novice player, tactics is by far the more important consideration. Almost all games below the master level are won and lost through tactical mistakes. This thought should guide the study of the improving player. If you want to improve fast, study tactics!

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Chess Strategy - Table of Contents
Strategy vs Tactics - Piece Values - Elementary Checkmates
The Three Game Phases - Opening Basics - Middlegame Basics - Endgame Basics
Top 10 Opening Principles - Top 10 Middlegame Principles - Top 10 Endgame Principles
Balanced Endgames - Part 2
Opening Systems