I am new here, and I am doing research for academic purposes. I am looking for examples of positions where I can distinguish a strategic move from a tactical move.

Can somebody give me examples of positions and next moves where the next move is

a) a strategic move

b) a tactical move

  • 2
    Your english is not correct. Do you mean distinguish a strategic move from a tactical move? Or do you mean something else? Aug 18 '15 at 20:28
  • If you describe your research a bit, you'll probably get better answers. Aug 19 '15 at 7:28
  • I'm also pretty sure you can find such examples by using the search box by using the tags you've used in your own question. :) Aug 19 '15 at 12:20

The difference between a tactical or a strategic/positional move lies in its justification. Almost all good moves have a positional and a tactical justification, otherwise they may be tactical or positional mistakes. The exception, of course, are moves that lead to mate or a big material advantage, those could probably be called purely tactical moves.

Which justification is more important to you depends on your abilities and your style. If the tactical justification of a move is obvious to you, it might seem like a purely positional move. On the other hand if a move has a deep strategic idea, but requires complicated calculation, you may regard it as a tactical move. I'll give you an example:

[Title "White to move"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "rnb1kb1r/pp3ppp/2p1q3/4P2n/4Np2/5N2/PPP1Q1PP/R1B1KB1R w KQkq - 1 10"]

1.g4 Qxg4 2.Rg1 Qe6 3.Rg5 g6 4.Rxh5

g4 may strike you as a very tactical move: It is a pawn sacrifice and its justification involves a lot of calculation including an exchange sacrifice. But the final goal is really very strategic: Conquering the dark squares, especially f6 and f4. White is winning.

Incidentally this is the big difference between computer chess and human chess: For a computer every move is a tactical move. Every move is justified by the calculation of variations. For humans this is a gradual thing and if you are looking for purely tactical moves you should focus on combinations with a very clear result.

If you want only a crude distinction I would propose to let an engine calculate a few moves: If a move is only viable after a certain search depth, you can call it tactical. Every move viable even at very low ply would be strategic/positional.

  • I tried exactly you propose. I used Arena 3.5, with StockFish 6-64, with 16 ply depth and Multi-PV nodes set to 24. The first move calculated was g4. But the next move for white was e6 instead of Rg1. Sorry for the silly next questions:1) your goal in the example was to open a g-file? 2) f6 was not parcially controlled by e5?
    – Luis Bueno
    Aug 19 '15 at 18:16
  • It is possible that ply 16 just isn't deep enough. Shredder on my old laptop wasn't able to find the idea at all. The idea isn't to open the g-line. The idea is to attack the knight with the rook, forcing g6 and than take it, which makes it possible to put a knight on f6 sooner or later. After 1.g4 fxg3 e.P. 2.hxg3 for example the g-line isn't open, but the end result will be the same. Aug 20 '15 at 7:28

I don't think there is a definitive answer to your question. I've heard the argument that all moves are ultimately tactical - chess engines, which today play better chess than any human, mainly rely on tactical considerations via hard calculation for evaluating moves. (Yes I know they also have positional characteristics built in but these are typically rather primitive).

Humans play chess differently from modern computers though - we rely more on pattern recognition than raw calculation power. Perhaps one workable definition of a strategic move is one where we apply a move based on a memorized pattern without having a clear material pay-off.

For example, I tend to have good results if I manage to get a knight on protected outpost in my enemy's territory, especially behind the flanking pawns. By no means is this a hard rule, but whenever my opponent advances his pawns aggressively I try to look for these kind of squares. Similarly it always seems like tactical opportunities present themselves whenever I have a rook (or even better, a double rook) on an open file.

I'm sure many would disagree - perhaps getting your knight on a good square is but a tactical consideration after all.

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