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I find this useful, both in chess and any other endeavor. Perhaps you will too, and so I share it with you.
-*-*-*-*-* THE THIRTY SIX STRATAGEMS *-*-*-*-*-
------- STRATAGEMS WHEN COMMANDING SUPERIORITY -------
1. DECEIVE THE HEAVENS AND CROSS THE OCEAN: Mask your real goals with a fake goal until your aims are achieved; the enemy will be so annoyed with the constant false alarms that they will ignore you once you make your real move.
2. BESIEGE WEI TO RESCUE ZHAO: Avoid a head-on battle with a strong enemy, and instead strike at his weakness (for example, a weaker ally) elsewhere.
3. KILL WITH A BORROWED KNIFE: Cause damage to the enemy by getting a third party to do the deed or causing an Enemy Civil War.
4. SUBSTITUTE LEISURE FOR LABOR: Have your troops well-prepared for battle, in the same time that the enemy is rushing to fight against you, ideally resulting in their exhausted troops running into your fresh soldiers on the terms of your choosing.
5. LOOT A BURNING HOUSE: The best time to attack an opponent is when they have their own problems to deal with. Though he who loots a burning house should be careful lest he become trapped inside.
6. CLAMOR IN THE EAST, ATTACK IN THE WEST: Get the enemy to focus his forces elsewhere, and then attack a position that would be weakly defended.
------- STRATAGEMS FOR CONFRONTATION -------
7. CREATE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: Make somebody believe there was something when there is in fact nothing, or vice versa.
8. OPENLY REPAIR THE WALKWAY, BUT SNEAK THROUGH THE PASSAGE OF CHENCANG: Deceive the enemy with an obvious approach that will take a very long time, while surprising him by taking a shortcut and sneaking up to him.
9. OBSERVE THE FIRE FROM THE OPPOSITE SHORE, OR SIT ON THE MOUNTAIN AND WATCH THE TIGERS FIGHT: Delay entering the field of battle until all the other players have become exhausted fighting amongst themselves, then go in at full strength and pick up the pieces.
10. HIDE A KNIFE BEHIND A SMILE: Charm and ingratiate yourself to your enemy. When you have gained his trust, move against him in secret.
11. SACRIFICE THE PLUM TREE TO PRESERVE THE PEACH TREE: Sacrifice short-term objectives in order to gain the long-term goal.
12. TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PILFER A GOAT: 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.
13. BEAT THE GRASS TO STARTLE THE SNAKE: Do something without aim, but make it so spectacular to provoke a response of the enemy, thereby giving away his plans or position, or just taunt him. Do something unusual, strange, and unexpected as this will arouse the enemy's suspicion and disrupt his thinking. However, an imprudent act will give your position or intentions away to the enemy.
14. BORROW A CORPSE TO RESURRECT THE SOUL: Revive something from the past by giving it a new purpose, or reinterpret it to your advantage.
15. LURE THE TIGER DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN: Lure an opponent away from his field of advantage, thus separating him from his source of strength.
16. TO CATCH SOMETHING, FIRST SET IT FREE: Cornered prey will often mount a final Desperation Attack; to prevent this, you let the enemy believe he still has a chance for freedom.
17. TOSS OUT A BRICK TO ATTRACT JADE: Bait someone by making him believe he gains something or just make him react to it and obtain something valuable from him in return.
18. TO CAPTURE THE BANDITS, CAPTURE THEIR LEADER: If the enemy's army is strong but is allied to the commander only by money or threats, then take aim at the leader; the rest of the army will disperse or come over to your side. If, however, they are allied to the leader through loyalty, then beware, the army can continue to fight on after his death out of vengeance.
------- STRATAGEMS FOR CONFUSED SITUATIONS -------
19. STEAL THE FIREWOOD FROM UNDER THE POT: Take out the leading argument or asset of your target, denying your enemy the resources needed to oppose you.
20. STIR UP THE WATERS TO CATCH A FISH: Create confusion and use this confusion to further your own goals.
21. SLOUGH OFF THE CICADA'S GOLDEN SHELL: Create an illusion to fit your goals and distract others.
22. SHUT THE DOOR TO CATCH THE THIEF: If you have the chance to completely capture the enemy then you should do so, thereby bringing the battle or war to a quick and lasting conclusion.
23. BEFRIEND A DISTANT STATE WHILE ATTACKING A NEIGHBOUR: When you are the strongest in one field, your greatest threat is from the second strongest in your field, not the strongest from another field, and thus the distant neighbor will make a good ally, however temporary.
24. OBTAIN SAFE PASSAGE TO CONQUER THE STATE OF GUO: Borrow the resources of an ally to attack a common enemy. Once the enemy is defeated, use those resources to turn on the ally that lent you them in the first place.
------- STRATAGEMS FOR GAINING GROUND -------
25. REPLACE THE BEAMS WITH ROTTEN TIMBERS: Disrupt the enemy's formations, interfere with their methods of operations, change the rules which they are used to following, go contrary to their standard training.
26. POINT AT THE MULBERRY TREE, BUT CURSE THE LOCUST: To discipline, control, or warn others whose status or position excludes them from direct confrontation; use analogy and innuendo. Without directly naming names, those accused cannot retaliate without revealing their complicity.
27. FEIGN MADNESS BUT KEEP YOUR BALANCE: Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations.
28. LURE THEM ONTO THE ROOF, THEN TAKE AWAY THE LADDER: With baits and deceptions, lure your enemy into treacherous terrain, then cut off his lines of communication and avenue of escape; to save himself, he must fight both your own forces and the elements of nature.
29. DECK THE TREE WITH FALSE BLOSSOMS: Through the use of artifice and disguise, make something of no value appear valuable; of no threat appear dangerous; of no use appear useful.
30. EXCHANGE THE ROLES OF HOST AND GUEST: Usurp leadership in a situation where you are normally subordinate. Infiltrate your target. Initially, pretend to be a guest to be accepted, but develop from inside and become the owner later.
------- STRATAGEMS FOR DESPERATE STRAITS -------
31. THE BEAUTY TRAP: Send your enemy beautiful women to cause discord within his camp. This strategy can work on three levels: First, the ruler becomes so enamored with the beauty that he neglects his duties and allows his vigilance to wane; second, other males at court will begin to display aggressive behavior that inflames minor differences hindering co-operation and destroying morale; third, other females at court, motivated by jealousy and envy, begin to plot intrigues, further exacerbating the situation.
32. THE EMPTY FORT STRATEGY: When the enemy is superior in numbers and your situation is such that you expect to be overrun at any moment, then drop all pretense of military preparedness and act calmly so that the enemy will think you have hidden reserves and want to trap them into the fort.
33. LET THE ENEMY'S OWN SPY SOW DISCORD IN THE ENEMY CAMP: Undermine your enemy's intelligence-gathering abilities by using his own spies against him or planting your own agents among his.
34. INJURE YOURSELF TO GAIN THE ENEMY'S TRUST: Pretending to be injured has two possible applications. In the first, the enemy is lulled into relaxing his guard since he no longer considers you to be an immediate threat. The second is a way of ingratiating yourself to your enemy by pretending the injury was caused by a mutual enemy.
35. CHAIN STRATAGEMS: In important matters, one should use several stratagems applied simultaneously after another as in a chain of stratagems. Keep different plans operating in an overall scheme; however, in this manner if any one strategy fails, then the chain breaks and the whole scheme fails.
36. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, RETREAT: The best battle is one fought with your side never having to mobilize, but if it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat, then retreat and regroup.
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