Now it’s clear: strategy should be the master, tactics only a good servant.

The main principle of strategy, we know, is to defeat the enemy’s strategy, fight their plans, oppose their intentions.

That’s what we need to do. But how are we getting there?

Peter Paul Rubens, Amazonenschlacht, c.1619, Alte Pinakothek Muenchen

By using tactics following its first principle, the forcing. Harass them, keep pressure on them all the time and force them to play to your tune, so they can’t strike back.

You force them to defend themselves, restricting both their plans and their freedom of movement. The advantage: when they play on the defensive they can’t make moves constructive to their own plans. Again, that’s exactly what you want – to defeat their strategy.

At the outset, you identify your goal(s), who your rival is and then you outline the supporting strategy. There’s no hostilities, no engagement with the enemy yet. What you need is to refine your strategy as to make the best preparations possible, the optimal alignment of your forces and disposition of troops before the actual battle begins.

They who don’t have strategy and future goals set will get engaged with the enemy very much unprepared, basically on unfavorable terms. Is such a prospect attractive? Of course not. That’s why you need a careful preparation by means of a methodical strategic play.

As you start taking up good attacking positions in the opening the tension is growing toward the upcoming battle. During that period there are distinct stages of how you get engaged with the enemy. In the increasing order of significance and level of forcing they are:

Threats of attack of the second order, that is two moves away from an actual attack, for example, in the starting position the f1 Bishop against the f7-Pawn: 1.e4 (with this move a threat of attack is issued) e5 2.Bc4 (a direct attacking contact established now).

Threats of attack, one-move away from the attack

Direct Attacks, force the opponent to organize defense of the attacked unit

Captures/piece trades, force the opponent to recapture, or else the balance of power is upset

Of course, the check to the enemy King is of the highest priority, then captures using a sacrifice as the most energetic form of forcing after the check. Follow all those dangerous tactical devices and motives that may occur suddenly and are highly forced leaving no time for counter measures, such as double check, discovered check, double attack, the pin, drive-on, drive-off, overworked or unprotected pieces, and so on.

Here’s an example of a series of forcing moves using single attack to win White a Pawn:

Capablanca-Yates New York, 1924

40.Nc3 Rc5 (or 40…Nxc3 41.Rxd7 Kg8 42.Kxc3 with a piece up) 41.Ne4 Rb5 (otherwise the a5 Pawn is lost) 42.Ned6 Rc5 43.Nb7 Rc7 44.Nxa5 and white won at move 77.

The importance of the element of time in a tactical operation is clearly shown. This was like White had 4 extra moves in a row, as the black Rook was tied down to protecting the a5 Pawn.

Beside these factors the move itself, irrespective of its content, can be regarded as a forcing motif (zugzwang).

“The main feature of tactical operations is that of the three elements of chess: power, space and time, the last gets the most significance. The material aspect usually loses its importance it is normally given on a relative or exchange value.

When the situation is ripe and the concrete aim is within reach, the role of pieces will be limited to the accomplishment of the task at hand and their value exclusively determined by their ability to accomplish that end”, Jenö Bán, in The Strategy of Endgames, great book!

Harmony of pieces and coordinated use of forces becomes the most important feature.

All this is fine, you have known all this before.

The key question here is:

Are you a strategist, or like a leaf tossed back and forth by the waves of life, blown here and there by every capricious wind in an increasingly complex, rapidly changing world? The ultimate success in this game definitely requires mastering the art of strategy.

You can let events control you, or you can start to control events by setting your goals and strategy.

It’s your call.

Lousy or even worse, non-existent goals and strategy make a lousy game, erm life.

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