clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Art of Wenger

New, comments

A look into the mind of a three-dimensional chess master

Manchester United v Huddersfield Town - Premier League Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

I.

“Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”

II.

“Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.”

III.

“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”

“Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

IV.

“He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.”

“Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.”

“Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.”

V.

“In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.”

“Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.”

VI.

“Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”

“Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.”

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”

VII.

“Do not pursue an enemy who simulates flight; do not attack soldiers whose temper is keen.”

“Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy. Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.”

“When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”

“Such is the art of warfare.”

VIII.

“There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.”

“These are the five besetting sins of a general, ruinous to the conduct of war.”

“When an army is overthrown and its leader slain, the cause will surely be found among these five dangerous faults. Let them be a subject of meditation.”

IX.

“The sight of men whispering together in small knots or speaking in subdued tones points to disaffection amongst the rank and file.”

“Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources; too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress.”

“To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright at the enemy’s numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.”

X.

“If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.”

“If we know that the enemy is open to attack, but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.”

“If we know that the enemy is open to attack, and also know that our men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the nature of the ground makes fighting impracticable, we have still gone only halfway towards victory.”

“Hence the experienced soldier, once in motion, is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he is never at a loss.”

“Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”

XI.

“Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear, and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.”

“Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.”

“At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.”

XII.

“Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation.”

“Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.”

XIII.

“The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties is knowledge of the enemy; and this knowledge can only be derived, in the first instance, from the converted spy. Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated with the utmost liberality.”

“Of old, the rise of the Yin dynasty was due to I Chih who had served under the Hsia. Likewise, the rise of the Chou dynasty was due to Lu Ya who had served under the Yin.”

“Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying and thereby they achieve great results.” Spies are a most important element in water, because on them depends an army’s ability to move.