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Strategy , Tactics and Technique [#3142]

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OscarBear: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 13:43) [#10497]

Are we properly defining these 3 concepts? I would say that a strategy will be composed of a series of a tactics, and that a tactic is achieved through technique. A strategy refers to a long term plan. A tactic a short term plan. A technique a detail of the implementation.

tapir: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 14:48) [#10498]

In my world, tactics is the employment of troops in battle, strategy the employment of the battle to gain the object of the war. Neither has much to do with plans, because wars and plans.

RobertJasiek: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 14:50) [#10499]
  • We do not have a definition for 'techniques' yet.
  • A strategy need not be composed of tactics; e.g., it is also possible to formulate a strategy solely on the abstraction level of plans.
  • You like to speak about 'a tactic', while (for the sake of distinction from strategy) I like to speak about 'tactics'. A tactic can be a simple, special instance of tactics (such as a particular move of a particular sequence) or can be a word for what is more clearly called a 'technique'; both uses of the word tactic are informal.
  • Most tactics are not achieved through techniques (I know because I have studied the relation very carefully while writing the book Tactical Reading) but are achieved through reading moves, sequences, variations and making related decisions. It is extraordinarily popular in the literature and verbal teaching to try explaining tactics in terms of techniques, however, such attempts consistently ignore or overlook lots of variations and decisions in order to concentrate on what remains (the techniques). Teachers and authors have made this mistake because it is very easy to be made and creates the illusion of having "nice" descriptions / "solutions" of specific tactical problems. For the easiest problems, this can still work because they can often be solved by applying some techniques - as soon as problems become intermediate or advanced, the usefulness of techniques decreases dramatically, techniques can explain only parts of only a part of all problems and non-technique reading is required. If you wonder why tactics in general are not composed of techniques, there are these explanations: 1) some parts of tactics do not have any relation to known techniques, 2) of the many known techniques, it can easily be unclear which to apply to specific moves, sequences or decisions, nevertheless applying them leads to application of several techniques to the same reading object and the time / effort for application of techniques greatly exceeds that necessary for raw reading, so that such application of techniques becomes meaningless (because they are supposed to ease problem solving instead of making things more difficult).
  • IMO; associating strategy with plans is overly restrictive. There can also be strategy that does not rely on plans.
  • Not each strategy must be global or long-term. Strategy can also be of intermediate scale or local, and intermediate-term or short-term.
  • Strategy need not rely on techniques. Therefore, one cannot say in general that a technique was a detail of implementation.
HermanHiddema: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 15:08) [#10500]

Yes, basically its:

Strategy > Tactics > Technique > Reading

RobertJasiek: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 15:19) [#10501]

Tactics need not, and often does not, rely on techniques as a lower level. Therefore, "Tactics > Techniques" is wrong even as an approximation. Since you imply "Tactics > Reading" instead of "Tactics = Reading", please explain which differences you see. IMO, all tactics can be expressed as reading, although one can optionally additionally describe the reading in informal words and, if one likes, call the combination of reading and informal description "tactics". But is there more you want to express as tactics?

HermanHiddema: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 16:05) [#10502]

No, and similarly strategy need not rely on tactics as a lower level, though it often does. The point is that tactics are never composed of strategies, and techniques are never composed of tactics. Reading underlies everything. If you cannot read, you cannot apply techniques, cannot apply tactics, cannot apply strategy.

Reading, to draw a parallel to football, is like walking & kicking. If your players can't walk, or kick the ball, there's no point in even formulating tactics or strategy. Good strategy/tactics/technique can reduce the amount of walking/kicking, but you can't do without.

RobertJasiek: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 17:05) [#10505]

You say some right and some false / misleading things. Besides, I keep wondering what it is that you suggest as the meaning of 'tactics'. IMO, false / misleading:

  • Reading does not underly everything. Strategy is built on reading in theory but in practise strategy often is not described in terms of reading. E.g., value theory (such as judging on semeais by liberty counts) can replace reading, although such can be translated to value-less reading. The count / score of a terminal position does not need reading; reading is needed to relate counts of different positions.
  • Some techniques work without reading and reading is not required to apply such techniques correctly. E.g., liberty counting and comparing is a technique that works well also without any reading.
HermanHiddema: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 17:08) [#10507]

Liberty counting is a basic skill, parallel to reading, not a technique.

RobertJasiek: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 17:14) [#10509]

Oh, we have another intersection of usage between techniques and skills, it seems:)

HermanHiddema: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 17:55) [#10512]


IMO, reading is fundamental because it can (in theory) replace everything else. Determining the status of a semeai can be done by counting liberties, but also by reading. If you've never heard of the snapback technique, you can find it on the board by reading. If you've not heard of two eyes, you can still determine life & death by reading. At it's extreme, you can win the game purely by reading all possible game trees and min-maxing to the best score (of course, in practice this is impossible).


  • Strategy can be composed from (or perhaps replaced by) tactics, technique and/or reading, but the reverse is not true.
  • Tactics can be composed from (or perhaps replaced by) technique and/or reading, but the reverse is not true.
  • Technique can be composed from (or perhaps replaced by) reading, but the reverse is not true.

Hence: Strategy > Tactics > Technique > Reading

RobertJasiek: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 18:56) [#10514]

Better write: Strategy > Tactics [> Technique] >= Reading because Technique is optional and can be useless.

OscarBear: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 16:05) [#10503]

I do not understand how reading can be normally described as a tactic in itself. For instance:

  • Alan decided to launch a splitting attack.
  • Bob decided to read if the ladder worked.
  • Carol decided to make a small knights move to reduce the opponent's territory.

It sounds to me like Alan is using a tactic, Carol has chosen a particular technique, and Bob is reading whether he can use a tactic/technique.

This leads to me suspect that your definition of reading is different to the one that most of us know.

RobertJasiek: Re: Strategy , Tactics and Technique (2015-05-11 16:55) [#10504]
  • You continue to talk about 'a tactic' while I refer to 'tactics' (plural). Of course, reading (in general) is not a tactic, because it does not refer to a single object, but it refers to many objects (moves, sequences, variations, decisions) and therefore to tactics (plural).
  • A splitting attack is not a tactic, but it is an application of the 'strategic concept' carrying the name 'splitting attack'.
  • Ladder (in general) is a very basic strategic concept. A particular ladder is the strategic concept applied to the particular case. Furthermore, since we know the ladder, we know the move sequence of the ladder and can also describe the particular ladder in terms of tactical reading. What makes matters even more confusing: recognising and reading a particular ladder can also be perceived as an application of the technique of recognising and reading ladders. The strategic concept is so low level that perception as a technique is an alternative. However, at the same time, the ladder sequence belongs to reading as well.
  • A move of the knights shape is (in general) this particular shape (knowledge). I would put shape knowledge extra from strategic, tactics and techniques. The particular knights move is an application of the knowledge of the knights shape to the particular knights move. 'Reduction' is a strategic concept. Here, you apply the strategic concept and refer to a particular instance of a reduction: that particular knights move. In this context, 'territory' is a strategic concept. Furthermore, one can also perceive 'using a knights move to reduce the opponent's territory' as a technique. In the particular position, this techniqueis applied by referring to the particular knights move etc.
reply Reading can't be part of a tactic or strategy (2015-05-11 17:07) [#10506]

In my opninion reading is something a player does during a game to guide his choice of tactics and strategy[1]. I don't think it is a tactic in and of itself.

When you read a game commentary the commentary can easily refernce the strategy and tactics the players employed. However no reading is happening at this point. It's is merely a discussion of moves already played. In commentaries one can easily find such statements as: "Black played attaching moves to strengthen his weak stones" or "White cut off the tail of black's dragon". In my opinion these are both clearly discussions of tactics. But no reading is involved.

Now of course in the game the players would have to read to make sure that the moves they played had the desired tactical (and strategical) effects. But it's not really a part of the tactic itself. For example cutting two groups apart is a tactic, but you need reading to tell if your oponent can't just capture the cutting stone. And then strategy comes in at a higher level when it turns out you were just cutting 2 live groups.

Now for a book on basic tactics I think it makes a lot of sense to also include information on reading. Since reading is required to find the tactics that actually work. And just teaching tactics without teaching how to actually find them seems to be missing the point.


[1] Here I mean strategy and tactic as purely about the moves in a vacuum. In a tournament setting with time limits you could approach reading strategically by allocating a certain amount of time to it. But this is more a meta-strategy.

RobertJasiek: Re: Reading can't be part of a tactic or strategy (2015-05-11 17:13) [#10508]

You are using examples of what you call tactics, where I would speak of (low level) strategy (and applied strategic concepts. This should not surprise us, because between clear-cut strategy and clear-cut reading there is a large grey area in between. So what some of us would call strategy, others of us would call tactics. This is so especially for low level strategy that can, in principle and within reasonable time, be worked out and expressed in terms of reading.

reply ((no subject)) (2015-05-11 17:28) [#10510]

I agree with Robert ; strategy is an abstract concept, tactics is about how to get things done, and technique is a part of tactics when the sequences are known (e.g. middlegame josekis, classical tesuji).


Timm: Re: ((no subject)) (2015-05-11 17:27) [#10511]

(That was me, Timm)

reply Waste of time (2015-05-11 18:41) [#10513]

You are wasting your time arguing about this. Even native speakers can be hazy, opinionated or ignorant about the difference, and in some uses there are UK/US differences, too.

In military use, though, there is a clear contrast between strategy and tactics (plural).

There is also stratagem to add to the mix.

Two things, though, can be said without too much fear of contradiction by native speakers. One is that strategy has a strong connotation of **long-term** or **large-scale** planning (there is no reason for it to be abstract, though it can be). The other is that tactics (plural) must mean more than reading. A tactic (singular) can plausibly be used for the result of a reading exercise, but can also be used to imply some degree of pre-planning (with reading used merely as a check). However, the plural use seems much more common, and for the singular use stratagem might be preferred.

OscarBear: Re: Waste of time (2015-05-12 08:28) [#10519]

It may well be somewhat of a waste of time, but all the same, it is nice to have some sort of consistent approach in the library material. There are a lot of pages that cover these things, and it wouldn't be nice if they were too muddled. We can consider: Techniques, Tactics, BasicTacticsOfGo, ExtensionOfCrosscutTactics, TaxonomyOfTechniques, Strategy, StrategicConcepts, StrategicPosition, StrategicPrinciples, StrategicPlans, maybe even DieterVerhofstadt/GoTheoryBasicTechniqueTacticsAndStrategy and probably many more...

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