Skip to content
                      Site Tools
                      Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color blue color green color
                      Home History and Culture Thirty-Six Strategies 9-12
                      Thirty-Six Strategies 9-12
                      Learn Chinese - History and Culture

                      9. Observe the Fire on the Opposite Shore

                      Delay entering the field of battle until all the other players have become exhausted fighting amongst themselves. Then go in full strength and pick up the pieces.

                      Towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, Cao Cao defeated Yuan Shao's forces in the Battle of Guandu. After Yuan Shao's death, his three sons fought among themselves in a battle of succession.

                      Cao Cao took advantage of the chaos and attacked, but the brothers united against their common enemy.

                      Cao Cao's strategist, Guo Jia suggested, "The Yuan brothers were fighting among themselves and our attack only caused them to unite against us. If we retreat, they'll fight among themselves again. Once they are weakened, it'll be easy to win."

                      After Cao Cao's troops withdrew, the Yuan brothers fought among themselves for control of Fen province. The eldest brother Yuan Tan was angry because their father had made the second son Yuan Shang his heir. The youngest son Yuan Xi supported Yuan Shang.

                      In the meantime, Cao Cao conquered Qing, Fen, Bing and You provinces. Yuan Tan was killed. Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi fled to Liaodong in the north-east to seek the help of nomadic chieftain Gongsun Kang. Instead of pursuing the Yuan brothers, Cao Cao summoned his forces back saying that Gongsun Kang would send the heads of the Yuan brothers to him.

                      After some time, Gongsun Kang indeed sent the heads of the two Yuan brothers to Cao Cao. Cao Cao later explained, "Gongsun Kang was afraid he'd be my next target; he was also afraid that the Yuan brothers would annex his territory. If I attacked him, he would need the help of the brothers. But if I withdrew... Tough luck for the brothers.

                      10. Hide Your Dagger Behind a Smile
                      Charm and ingratiate yourself to your enemy. When you have gained his trust, you move against him in secret.

                      During the Warring States, in the year 341 BC, General Gongsun Yang led 50,000 soldiers to invade the state of Wei.

                      Wei's king Hui was extremely worried. Gongzi Ying of Wei said, "Gongsun Yang was originally a native of Wei and we were good friends for some years. If I could talk to Gongsun Yang, I may be able to persuade him into ordering a retreat. If we find that he cannot be trusted, we can retreat into Wu city which has impregnable fortifications."

                      Gongzi Ying then led 50,000 troops to guard Wu city. Gongsun Yang arrived at Wu city and hearing that Gongzi Ying was in charge of its defence, hatched an idea.

                      Gongsun Yang sent a letter to Gongzi Ying which wrote, "Formerly, you and I enjoyed a good relationship. I greatly appreciate your trustworthiness and your valuing of our friendship. Why not order a mutual retreat? If you agree, let's meet outside the city in three days' time to discuss the matter."

                      Three days later, Gongzi Ying brought 300 unarmed troops showing his country's goodwill and sincerity. Gongsun Yang himself also brought no weapons. They started a discussion and the atmosphere was very cordial. Gongsun Yang then invited Gongzi Ying to his tent for a banquet.

                      Upon reaching the Qin's camps, Gongzi Ying and his 300 unarmed troops were siezed and arrested. The Qin soldiers then disguised themselves as Wei's troops and went to the city gates. They claimed that Gongzi Ying is back and asked for the gates to be opened. The Qin troops charged through the gates and conquered Wu city. Gongzi Ying was taken captive to Qin.

                      11. Sacrifice the Plum Tree In Place of the Peach
                      There are circumstances in which you must sacrifice short-term objectives in order to gain the long-term goal. This is the scapegoat strategy whereby someone else suffers the consequences so that the rest do not.

                      In the Warring States period, Qi commander Tian Ji always lost in his horse races with one of the princes.

                      Sun Bin suggested that he pit his weakest horse against the prince strongest horse, and his strongest horse against the prince's average horse, and his average horse against the prince's weakest horse. As a result, Tian Ji lost one race but won two.

                      In the year 353 BC, Sun Bin's use of the "besiege Wei to save Zhao" strategy sent the Wei troops rushing back to defend their state. The Wei troops split into three columns of left, centre and right in their return journey. Its left column was strongest and right column weakest.

                      Tian Ji decided to adopt the same strategy as in the horse race so that he could defeat two columns and suffer only one setback.

                      Sun Bin said, "It's not enough to win by matching the strength of forces. We can make use of our total numerical strength to annihilate the enemy. We can send our weakest column to fight Wei's strongest. Our average can fight with Wei's average column. With the advantage of terrain we can win if we know how to stall for time."

                      When Tian Ji asked how they could win, Sun bin said, "Send our best column to quickly destroy their weakest column.

                      Then our best can join our average column to annihilate their average column. Finally, our best and average columns can join our weakest column to wipe out their strongest column."

                      12. Seize the Opportunity To Lead a Sheep Away
                      While carrying out your plans be flexible enough to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, however small, and avail yourself of any profit, however slight.

                      三十六計故事 9-12

                      第九計 隔岸觀火
                      東漢末年,袁紹兵敗身亡,幾個兒子為爭奪權力互相爭斗,曹操決定擊敗袁氏兄弟。 袁尚、袁熙兄弟投奔烏桓,曹操向烏桓進兵,擊敗烏桓,袁氏兄弟又去投奔遼東太守公孫康。曹營諸將向曹操進言,要一鼓作氣,平服遼東,捉拿二袁。曹操哈哈大 笑說,你等勿動,公孫康自會將二袁的頭送上門來的。于是下令班師,轉回許昌, 靜觀遼東局勢。公孫康 聽說二袁來降,心有疑慮。袁家父子一向都有奪取遼東的野心,現在二袁兵敗,如喪家之犬,無處存身,投奔遼東實為迫不得已。公孫康如收留二袁,必有后患,再者,收容二袁,肯定得罪勢力強大的曹操。但他又考慮,如 果曹操進攻遼東,只得收留二袁,共同抵御曹操。當他探聽到曹操已經轉回許昌,并無進攻遼東之意時,認為收容二袁有害無益。于是預設伏兵,召見二袁,一舉擒拿,割下首級,派人送到曹操營中。曹操笑著對眾將說,公孫康向來俱怕袁氏吞并他,二袁上門,必定猜疑,如果我們急于用兵,反會促成他們合力抗拒。我們退兵, 他們肯定會自相火并??纯唇Y果,果然不出我所料。

                      第十計 笑里藏刀
                      戰國時期,秦國為了對外擴張,必須奪取地勢險要的黃河崤山一帶,派公孫鞅為大將,率兵攻打魏國。公孫鞅大軍直抵魏國吳城城下。這吳城原是魏國名將吳起 苦心經營之地,地勢險要,工事堅固,正面進攻恐難奏效。公孫鞅苦苦思索攻城之計。他探到魏國守將是與自己曾經有過交往的公子昂,心中大喜。他馬上修書一封, 主動與公子昂套近乎,說道,雖然我們倆現在各為其主,但考慮到我們過去的交情, 還是兩國罷兵,訂立和約為好。念舊之情,溢于言表。他還建立約定時間會談議和 大事。信送出后,公孫鞅還擺出主動撤兵的姿態,命令秦軍前鋒立即撤回。公子昂 看罷來信,又見秦軍退兵,非常高興,馬上回信約定會談日期。公孫鞅見昂已鉆入 了圈套,暗地在會談之地設下埋伏。會談那天,公子昂帶了三百名隨從到達約定地 點,見公孫鞅帶的隨從更少,而且全部沒帶兵器,更加相信對方的誠意。會談氣氛 十分融洽,兩人重敘昔日友情,表達雙方交好 的誠意。公孫鞅還擺宴款待公子昂。公子昂興沖沖入席,還未坐定,忽聽一聲號令,伏兵從四面包圍過來,公子昂和三 百 隨從反應不及,全部被擒。公孫鞅利用被俘的隨從,賺開吳城城門,占領吳城。魏國只得割讓西河一帶,向秦求和。秦國用公孫鞅笑里藏刀計輕取崤山一帶。

                      第十一計 李代桃疆

                      第十二計 順手牽羊

                      China Yellow Pages