conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains.
深閒 is expanded by Tu Mu into 雖有閒者深來窺我. [For 閒, see XIII, note on heading.] He explains 知者 in like fashion: 雖有智能之士亦不能謀我也 “though the enemy may have clever and capable officers, they will not be able to lay any plans against us.”
26. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics — that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.
All the commentators except Li Ch‘üan make 形 refer to the enemy. So Ts‘ao Kung: 因敵形而立勝. 錯 is defined as 置. The T‘u Shu has 措, with the same meaning. See IV. § 13. The Yü Lan reads 作, evidently a gloss.
27. All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
I.e., everybody can see superficially how a battle is won; what they cannot see is the long series of plans and combinations which has preceded the battle. It seems justifiable, then, to render the first 形 by “tactics” and the second by “strategy.”
28. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
As Wang Hsi sagely remarks: “There is but one root-principle (理) underlying victory, but the tactics (形) which lead up to it are infinite in number.” With this compare Col. Henderson; “The rules of strategy are few and simple. They may be learned in a week. They may be taught by familiar illustrations or a dozen diagrams. But such knowledge will no more teach a man to lead an army like Napoleon than a knowledge of grammar will teach him to write like Gibbon.”