Chapter 3: Attacking Stratagems 攻战计

调虎离山 diàohǔlíshān
Entice the tiger to leave its mountain lair


Never directly attack an opponent whose advantage is derived from its position. Instead lure him away from his position thus separating him from his source of strength.

When Liu Bang established the Han Dynasty, he adopted the feudal system whereby a general is awarded land and title in proportion to his merits in battle. This was done to encourage his generals to be brave in war. As a result, all the generals possessed large territories and had large armies of their own. After the political situation had stabilized, Liu Bang began to worry if his powerful generals would revolt(反叛 fǎnpàn) in the future. Among them, Han Sin, who had gained the most merits(功劳 ɡōnɡláo) in battle, became the biggest threat(威胁 wēixié) to Liu Bang.

Liu Bang's advisor Chen Ping presented him with a scheme to entice(诱骗 yòupiàn) Han Sin to leave his feudal stronghold where he is protected by his army and then capture him. Under the pretext of taking an excursion to a resort, Liu Bang ordered all the feudal lords to come and see him. When Han Sin arrived, he was told that someone had tipped off Liu Bang that he was plotting a revolt. Han Sin was arrested on the spot. Later, his land was confiscated(没收 mòshōu), and he was given the lower rank of marquis.

Two classic methods when an enemy is holed up in a defensible position are siege and baiting. In a siege you cut off their supply lines, which forces them to eventually come out to meet you. Baiting is using some way of getting them to come to you, typically in the belief that you are in a weak position. In a retreat, for example, you give the impression of running away, hoping that they come out to chase you. Another way of baiting is taunting, typically by insulting their leader until they become so enraged they make the mistake of coming out to challenge you.

Feinting can be used as a part of a bait strategy, moving forward and then retreating before turning back on them. Another variant on this stratagem is to lure the enemy into your mountains, bringing them to your place of strength. This is the basis of ambush.