Strategy and tactics are often used as synonyms. But what’s the actual difference between the words?
In short: strategy means long-term planning and tactics means executing short-tern operations.
Tactics in Chess
In chess, tactics mean small sets of moves, that can be calculated somewhat easily. The length of the calculated lines depends on the skills of the player. At quiet positions, where both sides have many options, tactical calculation is harder and not as efficient. Then again in tactical or “sharp” positions, where the number of possible lines are more restricted, calculating moves forward is very important.
Simplistic few-move-tactics (like a fork or double-check) can be combined into lengthier combinations. Long sacrificial combinations are held beautiful and they get noticed for example in chess magazines. They can be compared to the combo-moves of videogames or the passing goals of ice hockey.
Theoreticians have given a lot of names to simple tactical motifs, like pin, fork, battery, discovered attack (and discovered check), zugzwang, deflection, sacrifice and overloading.
Strategy in Chess
With chess strategy, you form goals and long-term plans. Strategy happens also when a player has many decent options for a move. When forming a plan, a player must take into consideration things like values of pieces, center fight, pawn structure, king safety, controlling strong and weak squares, open lines and open diagonals, and control over light and dark squares.
Strategic moves are not explosive, but often more quiet moves, which are preparing the fore coming moves. With strategy, you try to gain small advantages and grow them then into a winning position.
Here was short explanations of the words strategy and tactics. Both are needed to achieve a successful game. Without strategy tactics is just poking pieces around and without tactics strategy is too slow.