These short-term plans can encompass anything that will help you to improve your position or anything that will interfere with your opponent's position. When you bring a new piece into play—controlling a center square and preparing to castle, for instance—that is part of your tactical plan. (Castling itself can often fit in well with such short-term goals. It helps to bring your rook to the middle while helping to hide your king away behind a wall of pawns.)
Long-range, general goals for the future are strategic plans. They include gaining control of key squares, creating and pushing a passed pawn, using all your pieces, and exposing your opponent's king. More immediate goals of improving your position and/or destroying your opponent's position are tactics. These include various forms of double attack and any immediate threat.
Building for the Future
These kinds of moves just referred to are tactical because they offer immediate improvement of your position. You will need to be careful in determining where to place your pieces, though, since you do want them to be available later in the game. So placing a piece in the center where it will immediately perish is generally not a good idea.
You have to see far enough ahead on each move to know whether your move is safe. Am I placing the piece en prise? Will my opponent be able to attack this piece in the next couple of moves? Am I leaving anything open to attack by moving this piece? These are the kinds of questions you must answer before deciding on a particular move.
The general idea of what tactics is all about centers on immediate threats. You threaten a checkmate or to capture a piece, and your opponent responds with a threat to capture one of your pieces or to checkmate your king. These threats can take many forms, as you learned in Chapter 8 and will learn more about in the next chapter.
The threat to capture pieces, often combined with actual captures, is the most appealing and also the most difficult part of tactics. You absolutely have to be aware of all threats as well as the consequences of them all in order to be able to play a strong game.
A combination is a planned series of tactical moves using captures, checks, and threats of all sorts to gain an advantage or wipe out a disadvantage. Most combinations involve at least a temporary sacrifice of some sort, giving up something of importance in order to reap the rewards a little later.
Planning a tactical sequence of moves involves seeing ahead several moves. But more importantly, it involves judging the consequences of the sequence. For instance, consider the following position.
With Black to move, the first thing that should spring to mind is that White threatens to invade on f7, capturing a pawn with either bishop or knight.
You can try various defenses, such as 1…. Nh6, 1…. Be6, 1…. Qe7, and 1…. Bxe5. Look at them all and assess the consequences.
1. Nh6 brings a new piece into play, but doesn't attempt to control central squares. Further, are you ready to meet 2. Bxh6 in a way that both recaptures the piece and saves the f7-pawn?
1…. Be6 goes for the center and even threatens to capture the White bishop. But are you ready to answer 2. Bxe6 with 2…. fxe6, exposing your king and ruining your pawns?
1…. Qe7 doesn't really defend the pawn at all. White plays 2. Nxf7, picking off the pawn clean, and even getting the rook in the corner.
But 1…. Bxe5 saves the pawn while getting rid of that annoying knight. White can threaten the pawn again along with checkmate by playing 2. Qh5, but 2…. Qe7 seems to defend everything adequately while bringing another piece into play.