¡@¡@The next year, the two armies
formally engaged in battle at Yang Wu. The strength of Cao
Cao's forces numbered far less than Yuan Shao's army of one
hundred thousand. Furthermore, Cao Cao's food supply was running
low, and his soldiers were exhausted. It was a really bad
situation for Cao Cao. However, at this time, Syu You, the
advisor to Yuan Shao, unexpectedly chose to defect to the
side of Cao Cao.
¡@¡@Cao Cao asked Syu You for ideas on how to fight Yuan Shao.
Syu You suggested that instead of a frontal attack against
Yuan Shao's larger force, it is better to use win by wit.
He informed Cao Cao that the food supply for the Yuan army
was stored at a placed called Wu Chao, and its defense was
minimal. Syu You suggested a raid to burn down the barns where
all the food was stored. A sudden cut in food supply for all
one hundred thousand soldiers would surely reduce the strength
of the Yuan army.
¡@¡@Indeed, when Yuan Shao heard the news of the fire, he sent
some of his troops to rescue the food supply. Of course, their
efforts were in vain. Apart from that, Yuan Shao's main force
which headed for Guan Du, where the Cao army was encamped,
was defeated as well. Without food, the morale of his troops
soon collapsed. The soldiers either fled or were killed. As
a result, Yuan Shao's army of one hundred thousand strong
was reduced to a mere twenty thousand. As a consequence, Yuan
Shao's regime collapsed.
Strategy 19: Removing the Firewood From Under the Stove
¡@¡@ The best way to stop the water from boiling is to remove
the firewood from the stove. In other words, you've got to
solve a problem by tackling its source. Here it means you
don't have to defeat an enemy by defeating it on the battlefield.
Instead, you can use other means to weaken the strength and
the morale of the enemy.