Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbour

    Keywords: Strategy, Proverb

xela: Today someone told me a proverb: "If you have to run, bring a friend"--a way of describing inducing moves in running battles. Does "Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbour" mean something similar?

Bill: It seems to me that this proverb is about a 3 player game. Go is a 2 player game. ;)

Vincent: When you attack a weak group you drive it towards thickness, the "distant state". (At least that is my interpretation.)

Bill: Hmmm. In a go context it might refer to a leaning attack. You're attacking a distant state to attack a neighbor, but....

Tapir: You may strengthen a distant group (of your own) before / while attacking...

Bob McGuigan: In the book The Thirty-six Stratagems Applied to Go by Ma Xiaochun 9p, this strategem is translated as "Make friends with Distant Countries and Attack Your Neighbor". Doesn't this seem to have a different meaning than the version at the head of this page ("and" instead of "while")? With the book's translation it seems somewhat clearer that the meaning has to do with attacking from strength (e.g. thickness) and how it affects the whole board. Still this isn't very clear. Maybe it is stretching things to assume that this stratagem has direct application to go.

Bill: Well, Ma wrote the book. ;) It would be interesting to see how he applies these stratagems to go (without giving away the contents of the book, of course). :)

Bob: Well I have the impression that the interpretation of these stratagems in go terms is often not very clear. Ma gives good advice about go but interpreting it as an example of a particular Stratagem is often unclear. For example, for this stratagem Ma says: "This was a sort of diplomatic strategy adopted by the country of Qin during the Period of Warring States. They used it to reach their objectives of conquering neighboring countries and establishing a unified dynasty" [Go interpretation] "In Go there are only two players, Black and White. SO applying this to Go we can only explain it as: adeuately utilize your own advantageous factors ... to attack nearby." The next stratagem "Borrow a Road to Send an Expedition against Guo" refers to the necessity to pass through a neighboring country to attack a weaker distant country. Go interpretation: "In Go we only have two sides, the opponent and ourselves. There isn't any 'friendly neighboring ally'. Applying this to Go we can only say that you must first find a way to stabilize one battlefield if you want to open another one ..." Neither of these seems especially pertinent to go, Ma seems to be forcing something.

Dieter Surely these are not distinct pieces of strategic advise particular to Go. They are indeed strategies and ploys in a multi-player environment. Their application to Go is bound to be forced. The value of Ma's book lies not in his adequate translation of these stratagems to Go strategy, but the fine examples of professional thinking, including typical Go strategic concepts such as sacrifice, miai, playing away from thickness, ko ... The framework of the 36 stratagems holds these examples together, making a very fine read.

Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbour last edited by Phelan on January 26, 2009 - 07:44
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