124 ( +1 | -1 ) Strategy v. tactics v. positionThere's a lot of discussion on the board about what people mean by "a tactical player" or "e4 leads to a tactical game", etc. You run into these terms in chess books ... and on chess sites ... and they can be a bit confusing. Here's my take on the differences. Actually, there are two different comparisons being made.
The first is Strategy v. Tactics. In this case, "strategy" refers to your long-range goal in the game given a specific position. This includes the big questions like "do I attack the castled King or try to push a pawn through on the Q-side", or, "do I try to trade down to an end-game or keep playing a middle game"? The term "tactics" here refers to the specific moves you use to accomplish your strategy.
The second comparison is that of Positional v. Tactical positions. Open postions, more likely to flow out of e4 openings, are considered more tactical in nature ... where things happen very quickly and big food fights are the norm. More closed positions, resulting form d4 ... QGD for example ... rely more on positional maneuvering for much of the game.
To confuse the issue even more, players tend to think of themselves as tactical, strategic or positional ... which may or may not be the case in fact.
76 ( +1 | -1 ) The problem I have with this is that while more 1.e4 openings are tactical and more 1.d4 openings are strategic, that says nothing about an individuals personal repertoire. You could play only very strategic, non-tactical 1.e4 openings or crazy tactical 1.d4 openings. So unless you plan on rolling a 20-sided die to choose your opening, it really makes no sense to think: "Okay, this game starts 1.e4 so it's going to be tactical."
Also, I think it was Eric Schiller who said: amateurs don't have styles, they just have a set of weaknesses. In other words, if any of us thought that we were very positional, strategic players, it probably means that we need to work on our tactics. I think this is true.
33 ( +1 | -1 ) TrueGanstaman is correct ... for example look at the Sicilian, which can be very open or quite closed depending on the systems played by the opponents. I was only refering to the "reasonably expected in general" types of positions in the openings.
The main point was this -- there's a bit of difference between "tactics" and "tactical positions" or "tactical players".
80 ( +1 | -1 ) Perhaps an epigram ...... might adequately state the difference between tactics and strategy: "Tactics is what you do when there's something to do; strategy is what you do when there's nothing to do" ;-) Or, one might argue that tactics is the means by which a strategy is carried out. Plans can be strategic or tactical, though the further ahead you are looking, and the less move-specific, the more likely the plan is to be strategic in scope. A tactical player will still make strategic decisions, for example, to create and to maintain the kind of dynamic disequilibrium that will maximise the chances of situations arising that can be exploited by tactical means. Even Mikhail Tal found it occasionally preferable to proceed by "strategic" means, if any imbalance that he might be able to bring about favoured his opponent too much.