VIII. Variation of tactics.
The heading means literally “The Nine Variations,” but as Sun Tzŭ does not appear to enumerate these, and as, indeed, he has already told us (V. §§ 6—11) that such deflections from the ordinary course are practically innumerable, we have little option but to follow Wang Hsi, who says that “Nine” stands for an indefinitely large number. “All it means is that in warfare 當極其變 we ought to vary our tactics to the utmost degree . . . I do not know what Ts‘ao Kung makes these Nine Variations out to be [the latter’s note is 變其正得其所用九也], but it has been suggested that they are connected with the Nine Situations” — of chap. XI. This is the view adopted by Chang Yü: see note on 死地, § 2. The only other alternative is to suppose that something has been lost — a supposition to which the unusual shortness of the chapter lends some weight.
1. Sun Tzu said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign, collects his army and concentrates his forces.
Repeated from VII. § 1, where it is certainly more in place. It may have been interpolated here merely in order to supply a beginning to the chapter.
2. When in difficult country, do not encamp.
For explanation of 圮地, see XI. § 8.
In country where high roads intersect, join hands with your allies.
See XI, §§ 6, 12. Capt. Calthrop omits 衢地.