A chess tactic is a move, or a forced combination of moves, whereby you make progress towards achieving your objectives. This includes the use of tactical patterns such as forks, pins, skewers, discovered attacks, x ray etc.
In chess, a tactic refers to a sequence of moves that limits the opponent’s options and may result in tangible gain. Tactics are usually contrasted with strategy, in which advantages take longer to be realized, and the opponent is less constrained in responding.Wikipedia
Diagram Left: 1.Qd4 f6 2.Qxb6 is a tactic that wins material.Diagram Right: 1.Bb4 is a strategic move that plans to exchange a bad bishop for a good bishop.
It comes down to this–if you can’t take advantage of a tactic yet, you turn to strategy.
Here’s two quotes by former world chess champions that further highlights the difference between chess strategy and tactics:
- “Strategy requires thought. Tactics require observation.” – Max Euwe
- “Tactics flow from a superior position.” – Bobby Fischer
But even though tactics and strategy aren’t the same thing, they work in unison in that tactics are often used to achieve strategic objectives.
Even though tactics are mostly known as ways to win material or give checkmate, it’s also an important tool in achieving strategic objectives.