Wherever there is a conflict, attack and defense are there. In chess, in warfare, in society, in jungle, in business, in sports… Attack and defense are like two sides of a coin.

The question now is, which one you think should be valued more? Which one do you prefer?

Attack and defense each have advantages and disadvantages. Like many questions revolving around two possible solutions, you may have to use one or the other in specific situations as the ultimate choice.

To answer this question we need to look at attack and defense in more detail and examine the human psychology that dictates certain behaviors that will eventually lead to one choice or the other.

Attack and defense on the chessboard. A deadly diagonal blow by White?

“Invincibility lies in the defense, the possibility of victory in the attack”, Sun Tzu.

One attacks when his strength is abundant. It is important to know where and when to attack and when to avoid battle. Knowing its strategy, the victorious army first realizes the conditions for victory, then seeks to engage in battle.

It’s completely different with the defender. One defends when his strength is inadequate. And should be ready to defend at all times to respond to enemy plans and intentions. This tells us that defense actually requires more outstanding qualities than attack itself, and seems to be a more vital and more difficult part of the battle.

Defense is a necessity, attack is an act of free will. You can usually stop attack and restore equilibrium. On the other hand, to give up on defense means to lose the battle, or perish. Defense has a passive purpose: preservation. Attack has a positive one: conquest.

An attacker has the initiative. Others will have to respond to his first move and so he can force an issue on others. For example, capturing a strategic position may force the other player to come in to defend it. As an attacker, you may force your enemy to make a move which might be quite beneficial in your grand strategy.

But attack has downsides too. When an aggressor goes on to attack, there are no more surprises left. The attack has happened and the defender can clearly see the attacker’s strategy, and respond accordingly. As the best strategy is to fight the enemy’s one, the defending side gains an advantage here as the first side in the conflict to have it uncovered.

If the defender can withstand the initial onslaught, the defender can turn the tables and exploit the aggressor’s weaknesses. Moreover, it requires more resources and energy to take land than to hold it. In short, the defender can counter attack.

Attack or defense? Which one is more important then?

In general, there is no right answer. It is with what you are most comfortable, depending on your psychological profile. Maybe you are Tal, maybe you are Petrosian. They both won the crown for the world championship. Do what comes naturally and learn to maximize your strengths.

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