9. If equally matched, we can offer battle;
Li Ch‘üan, followed by Ho Shih, gives the following paraphrase: 主客力敵惟善者戰 “If attackers and attacked are equally matched in strength, only the able general will fight.” He thus takes 能 as though it were 能者, which is awkward.
if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy;
The T‘u Shu has 守 instead of 逃, which is hardly distinguishable in sense from 避 in the next clause. The meaning, “we can watch the enemy,” is certainly a great improvement on the above; but unfortunately there appears to be no very good authority for the variant. Chang Yü reminds us that the saying only applies if the other factors are equal; a small superior difference in numbers is often more than counterbalanced by superior energy and discipline.
if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.
10. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.
In other words: “C’est magnifique; mais ce n’est pas la guerre.”
11. Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.
𨻶 cannot be restricted to anything so particular as in Capt. Calthrop’s translation, “divided in his allegiance.” It is simple keeping up the metaphor suggested by 周. As Li Ch‘üan tersely puts it: 𨻶缺也將才不備兵必弱 “Ch‘i, gap, indicates deficiency; if the general’s ability is not perfect (i. e. if he is not thoroughly versed in his profession), his army will lack strength.”
12. There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army: —