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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.


三十六计故事 9-12

第九计 隔岸观火
隔着河看对岸的火。比喻对别人的危难不予援救而在一帝看热闹。
典故:
东汉末年,袁绍兵败身亡,几个儿子为争夺权力互相争斗,曹操决定击败袁氏兄弟。 袁尚、袁熙兄弟投奔乌桓,曹操向乌桓进兵,击败乌桓,袁氏兄弟又去投奔辽东太守公孙康。曹营诸将向曹操进言,要一鼓作气,平服辽东,捉拿二袁。曹操哈哈大 笑说,你等勿动,公孙康自会将二袁的头送上门来的。于是下令班师,转回许昌, 静观辽东局势。公孙康 听说二袁来降,心有疑虑。袁家父子一向都有夺取辽东的野心,现在二袁兵败,如丧家之犬,无处存身,投奔辽东实为迫不得已。公孙康如收留二袁,必有后患,再者,收容二袁,肯定得罪势力强大的曹操。但他又考虑,如 果曹操进攻辽东,只得收留二袁,共同抵御曹操。当他探听到曹操已经转回许昌,并无进攻辽东之意时,认为收容二袁有害无益。于是预设伏兵,召见二袁,一举擒拿,割下首级,派人送到曹操营中。曹操笑着对众将说,公孙康向来俱怕袁氏吞并他,二袁上门,必定猜疑,如果我们急于用兵,反会促成他们合力抗拒。我们退兵, 他们肯定会自相火并。看看结果,果然不出我所料。

第十计 笑里藏刀
比喻外表和气而内心阴险。
典故:
战国时期,秦国为了对外扩张,必须夺取地势险要的黄河崤山一带,派公孙鞅为大将,率兵攻打魏国。公孙鞅大军直抵魏国吴城城下。这吴城原是魏国名将吴起 苦心经营之地,地势险要,工事坚固,正面进攻恐难奏效。公孙鞅苦苦思索攻城之计。他探到魏国守将是与自己曾经有过交往的公子昂,心中大喜。他马上修书一封, 主动与公子昂套近乎,说道,虽然我们俩现在各为其主,但考虑到我们过去的交情, 还是两国罢兵,订立和约为好。念旧之情,溢于言表。他还建立约定时间会谈议和 大事。信送出后,公孙鞅还摆出主动撤兵的姿态,命令秦军前锋立即撤回。公子昂 看罢来信,又见秦军退兵,非常高兴,马上回信约定会谈日期。公孙鞅见昂已钻入 了圈套,暗地在会谈之地设下埋伏。会谈那天,公子昂带了三百名随从到达约定地 点,见公孙鞅带的随从更少,而且全部没带兵器,更加相信对方的诚意。会谈气氛 十分融洽,两人重叙昔日友情,表达双方交好 的诚意。公孙鞅还摆宴款待公子昂。公子昂兴冲冲入席,还未坐定,忽听一声号令,伏兵从四面包围过来,公子昂和三 百 随从反应不及,全部被擒。公孙鞅利用被俘的随从,赚开吴城城门,占领吴城。魏国只得割让西河一带,向秦求和。秦国用公孙鞅笑里藏刀计轻取崤山一带。

第十一计 李代桃疆
原指桃、李共患难。比喻兄弟相爱相助。后用来指互相顶撞或代人受过。
本意是指兄弟要象桃李共患难一样相互帮助,相互友爱。此计用在军事上,指在敌我双方势均力敌,或者敌优我劣的情况下,用小的代价,换取大的胜利的谋略。很象大家在象棋比赛中的“舍车保帅”的战术。
典故:
孙膑赛马的故事为大家的熟知,他在田忌的马总体上不如对方的情况下,使他仍以二比一获胜。春秋时齐魏桂陵之战,魏军左军最强,中军次之,右军最弱。齐将田忌准备按孙膑赛马之计如法泡制,孙膑却认为不可。他说,这次作战不是争个二胜一负,而应大量消灭敌人。于是用下军对敌人最强的左军,以中军对势均力敌的中军,以力量最强的部队迅速消灭敌人最弱的右军。齐军虽有局部失利,但敌方左军、中军已被钳制住,右军很快败退。田忌迅即指挥已方上军乘胜与中军合力,力克敌方中军,得手后,三军合击,一起攻破敌方最强的左军。这样,齐军在全局上形成了优势,终于取胜。

第十二计 顺手牵羊
顺手就牵了羊。比喻不费劲,乘便得到的。现多指乘机拿走人家东西的偷窃行为。
典故:
公元383年,前秦统一了黄河流域地区,势力强大。前秦王苻坚坐镇项城,调集九十万大军,打算一举歼灭东晋。他派其弟苻融为先锋攻下寿阳,初战告捷,苻融判断东晋兵力不多并且严重缺粮,建议苻坚迅速进攻东晋。苻坚闻讯,不等大军齐集,立即率几千骑兵赶到寿阳。东晋将领谢石得知前秦百万大军尚未齐集,抓住时机,击败敌方前锋,挫敌锐气。谢石先派勇将刘牢之率精兵五万,强渡洛涧,杀了前秦守将梁成。刘牢之乘胜追击,重创前秦军。谢石率师渡过洛涧,顺淮河而上,抵达淝水一线,驻扎在八公山边,与驻扎在寿阳的前秦军隔岸对峙。苻坚见东晋阵势严整,立即命今坚守河岸,等待后续部队。
谢石看到敌众我寡,只能速战速决。于是,他决定用激将法激怒骄狂的苻坚。他派人送去一封信,说道,我要与你决一雌雄,如果你不敢决战,还是趁早投降为好。如果你有胆量与我决战,你就暂退一箭之地,放我渡河与你比个输赢。苻坚大怒,决定暂退一箭之地,等东晋部队渡到河中间,再回兵出击,将晋兵全歼水中。他哪里料到此时秦军士气低落,撤军令下,顿时大乱。秦兵争先恐后,人马冲撞,乱成一团,怨声四起。这时指挥已经失灵,几次下令停止退却,但如潮水般撤退的人马已成溃败之势。这时谢石指挥东晋兵马,迅速渡河,乘敌人大乱,奋力追杀。前秦先锋苻融被东晋军在乱军中杀死,苻坚也中箭受伤,慌忙逃回洛阳。前秦大败。淝水之战,东晋军抓住战机,乘虚而入,是古代战争史上以弱胜强的著名战例。
 

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