连环计

 
lián huán jì (lian huan ji)
interlocking stratagems

In important matters one should use several strategies applied simultaneously. Keep different plans operating in an overall scheme; in this manner if any one strategy fails you would still have several others to fall back on.

Warring States Era China

In 284 BC the state of Yan attacked and defeated Qi. The remaining Qi forces under the command of Tien Tan fled to the city of Ji Mo for a last stand. First, Tien Tan had the womenfolk line the city walls and beg for a peaceful surrender while he sent gold and treasure collected from the city's wealthiest citizens to general Qi Che with a note asking that the women and children be spared in return for the peaceful surrender of the city. These events convinced Qi Che that the city was truly about to capitulate and he allowed his troops to relax their guard. After this careful preparation Tien Tan felt the time was right to launch his counter attack. First he had the citizens of the city gather with drums and cooking pots and instructed them that on a signal they were to make as much noise as possible. He then had breaches made along the city walls from the inside. Next a herd of cattle was painted in bizarre patterns and knives and sickles tied to their horns and torches tied to their tails. Just before daylight three events occurred in rapid succession. The citizens within the city struck up a cacophony of noise that startled the sleeping Yan troops. Then the torches on the tails of the cattle were lit and they were released through the breaches in the wall. The enraged animals ran madly about the Yen camp killing stunned troops with their horns and setting fire to tents with their tails. Then Qi's crack troops rushed out from the gates to attack the now terrified and utterly confused troops. Tien Tan defeated the Yan army and went on to take more than seventy cities.

Spring and Autumn period

When the enemy possesses a superior force, do not attack recklessly. Instead, weaken him by devising plots to bring him into a difficult position of his own doing. Good leadership plays a key role in winning a war. A wise commander gains Heaven's favour.

In the late Spring and Autumn period, the chief minister of Qi, Tian Chang, instigated Duke Jian to destroy the state of Lu for he wanted to ursurp power.

In order to save his home state, Confucius despatched his most eloquent disciple Zi Gong to Qi to dissuade Qi from attacking Lu.

Zi Gong called on Tian Chang, "Lu is not easy to subdue. It's small, porrly fortified and weak. Why not attack Wu instead? It's large, well-fortified and has a powerful army. It'be easy to capture." Tian Chang became angry, "You're using reverse logic to mock me. What's your motive?"

Zi Gong said, "By attacking the powerful Wu, you can turn it ito a weapon against your enemies. If you attack the weak Lu, although victory is assured, the generals and ministers will share the glory and strengthen their positions. It'll be difficult then for you to carry out your plan of seizing power."

After thinking through, Tian Chang agreed with Zi Gong. But the army was already on its way to Lu. Zi Gong said, "I can talk the king of Wu into attacking Qi to save Lu. Then Qi will be justified in fighting Wu instead of Lu."

Zi Gong met Fu Chai, the king of Wu, "Why don't you send your army to save Lu? If you ally yourself with Lu to defeat Qi, you can eventually have the forces of both state to realize your military ambitions."

Fu Chai said, "But I hear Yue is plotting against Wu. It would be better for me to subdue Yue before attacking Qi." Zi Gong reassured Fu Chai, "I can persuade the king of Yue to lead troops to help you in attacking Qi."

Zi Gong arrived in Yue and told the king of Yue, Gou Jian, "I've come to express my condolences." When asked to explain, Zi Gong said, "Fu Chai suspects youre are a plotter and wants to destroy Yue before attacking Qi."

Gou Jian asked Zi Gong for advice. Zi Gong told him, "Inform Wu that you're willing to help in subduing Qi. Fu Chai will then be mollified."

Zi Gong reported back to Fu Chai, "Make use of Yue troops, but don't insist that Gou Jian should take part."

After some thought, Zi Gong realised that if Wu wins, it might turn on Lu. He decided that he needs to borrow Jin's influence to discourage Wu. Zi Gong thus proceeded to meet Duke Ding of Jin, "After defeating Qi, Wu will challenge Jin for dominance." Duke Jin prepared to resist Wu.

In the year 484 BC, Fu Chai led the forces of Wu, Yue and Lu to crush Qi. Fu Chai's next target was Jin. But Jin was well-prepared and Fu Chai couldn't realize his ambition.

将多兵众,不可以敌,使其自累,以杀其势。在师中吉,承天宠也①。

【注释】

①在师中古,承天变也:语出《易经.师》卦(卦名讲释见前第二十六计注)。本卦九二.《象》辞:“在师中吉,承天宠也”是说主帅身在军中指挥,吉利,因为得到上天的宠爱。此计运用此象理,是说将帅巧妙地运用此计,克敌制胜,就如同有上天护佑一样。

【按语】

庞统使曹操战舰勾连,而后纵火焚之,使不得脱。则连环计者,其结在使敌自累,而后图之。盖一计累敌,—计攻敌,两计扣用,以摧强势也。如宋毕再遇赏引敌与战,且前且却,至于数四。视日已晚,乃以香料煮黑,布地上。复前博战,佯败走。敌乘胜追逐。其马已饥,闻豆香,乃就食,鞭之不前。遇率师反攻,遂大胜。皆连环之计也。

【解析】

按语举庞统和毕再遇两个战例,说明连环计是一计累敌,一计攻敌,两计扣用。而关键在于使敌“自累”,从更高层次上去理解这“使其自累”几个字。两个以上的计策连用称连环计,而有时并不见得要看用计的数量,而要重视用计的质量,“使敌自累”之法,可以看作战略上让敌人背上包袱,使敌人自己牵制自己,让敌人战线拉长,兵力分散,为我军集中兵力,各个击破创造有利条件。这也是“连环计”在谋略思想上的反映。“大凡用计者,非一计之可孤行,必有数计以襄(辅助)之也。……故善用兵者,行计务实施。运巧必防损,立谋虑中变。”意思说明,用计重在有效果,一计不成,又出多计,在情况变化时,要相应再出计,这样才会使对方防不胜防。

【探源】

连环计,指多计并用,计计相连,环环相扣,一计累敌,一计攻敌,任何强敌,无攻不破。此计正文的意思是如果敌方力量强大,就不要硬拼,要用计使其自相钳制,借以削弱敌方的战斗力。巧妙地运用谋略,就如有天神相助。

此计的关键是要使敌人“自累”,就是指互相钳制,背上包袱,使其行动不自由。这样,就给围歼敌人创造良好的条件。

赤壁大战时,周瑜巧用反间,让曹操误杀了熟悉水战的蔡瑁、张允,又让庞统向曹操献上锁船之计,又用苦肉计让黄盖诈降。三计连环,打得曹操大败而逃。

在“反间计”那一章里,我们讲了周瑜让曹操误杀蔡、张二将之事,曹操后悔莫及,更要命的是曹营再也没有熟悉水战的将领了。

东吴老将黄盖见曹操水寨船只一个挨一个,又无得力指挥,建议周瑜用火攻曹军。并主动提出,自己愿去诈降,趁曹操不备,放火烧船。周瑜说:“此计甚好,只是将军去诈降,曹贼定生疑。”黄盖说:“何不使用苦肉计?”周瑜说:“那样,将军会吃大苦。”黄盖说:“为了击败曹贼,我甘愿受苦。”

第二日,周瑜与众将在营中议事。黄盖当众顶撞周瑜,骂周瑜不识时务,并极力主张投降曹操。周瑜大怒,下令推出斩首。众将苦苦求情,,老将军功劳卓著,请免一死。”周瑜说:“死罪既免,活罪难逃。”命令重打一百军棍,打得黄盖鲜血淋漓。

黄盖私下派人送信曹操,大骂周瑜,表示一定寻找机会前来降曹。曹操派人打听,黄盖确实受刑,现正在养伤。他将信将疑,于是,派蒋干再次过江察看虚实。

周瑜这次见了蒋干,指责他盗书逃跑,坏了东吴的大事。这次过江,又有什么打算?周瑜说:“莫怪我不念旧情,先请你住到西山,等我大破曹军之后再说。”把蒋干给软禁起来了。其实,周瑜想再次利用这个过于自作聪明的呆子,所以名为软禁,实际上又在诱他上钩。

一日,蒋干心中烦闷,在山间闲逛。忽然听到从一间茅屋中传出琅琅书声。蒋干进屋一看,见一隐士正在读兵法,攀谈之后,知道此人是名士庞统。他说,周瑜年轻自负,难以容人,所以隐居在山里。蒋干果然又自作聪明,劝庞统投奔曹操,夸耀曹操最重视人才,先生此去,定得重用。庞统应允,并偷偷把蒋干引到江边僻静处,坐一小船,悄悄驶向曹营。

蒋干哪里会想到又中周瑜一计:原来庞统早与周瑜谋划,故意向曹操献锁船之计,让周瑜火攻之计更显神效。曹操得了庞统,十分欢喜,言谈之中,很佩服庞统的学问。他们巡视了各营寨,曹操请庞统提提意见。庞统说:“北方兵士不习水战,在风浪中颠簸,肯定受不了,怎能与周瑜决战?”曹操问:“先生有何妙计?”庞统说:“曹军兵多船众,数倍于东吴,不愁不胜。为了克服北方兵士的弱点,何不将船连锁起来,平平稳稳,如在陆地之上。”曹操果然依计而行,将士们都十分满意。

一日,黄盖在快舰上满载油、柴、硫,硝等引火物资,遮得严严实实。他们按事先与曹操联系的信号,插上青牙旗,飞速渡江诈降。这日刮起东南风,正是周瑜他们选定的好日子。曹营官兵,见是黄盖投降的船只,并不防备,忽然间,黄盖的船上火势熊熊,直冲首营。风助火势,火乘风威,曹营水寨的大船一个连着一个,想分也分不开,一齐着火,越烧越旺。周瑜早已准备快船,驶向曹营,只杀得曹操数十万人马一败涂地。曹操本人仓皇逃奔,捡了一条性命。

【故事】

战场形势复杂多变,对敌作战时,使用计谋,是每个优秀指挥员的本领。而双方指挥员都是有经验的老手,只用一计,往往容易被对方识破。而—计套—计,计计连环,作用就会大得多。

宋代将领毕再遇就曾经运用连环计,打过漂亮的仗。他分析金人强悍,骑兵尤其勇猛,如果对面交战往往造成重大伤亡。所以他用兵主张抓住敌人的重大弱点,设法钳制敌人,寻找良好的战机。

一次又与金兵遭遇,他命令部队不得与敌正面交锋,可采取游击流动战术。敌人前进,他就令队伍后撤,等敌人刚刚安顿下来,他又下令出击,等金兵全力反击时,他又率队伍跑得无影无踪。就这样,退退进进,打打停停,把金兵搞得疲惫不堪。金兵想打又打不着,想摆又摆不脱。

到夜晚,金军人困马乏,正准备回营休息。毕再遇准备了许多用香料煮好的黑豆,偷偷地撒在阵地上。然后,又突然袭击金军。金军无奈,只得尽力反击。那毕再遇的部队与金军战不几时,又全部败退。金军气愤至极,乘胜追赶。谁知,金军战马一天来,东跑西追,又饿又渴,闻到地上有香喷喷味道,用嘴一探,知道是可以填饱肚子的粮食。战马一口口只顾抢着吃,任你用鞭抽打,也不肯前进一步,金军调不动战马,在黑夜中,一时没了主意,显得十分混乱。毕再遇这时调集全部队伍,从四面包围过来,杀得金军人仰马翻,横尸遍野。

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