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Chinese folktale: Tian Ji Winning the Horse Race


General Tian Ji was a high official in the state of Qi 2300 years ago. At that time horse racing was a favorite pastime between the King and the aristocrats. Each time Tian Ji lost to the King, Su Bin, the famous ancient strategist came to his house.

Sun Bin was circumvented in the state of Wei by his fellow student Pang Juan because of the latter's jealousy over his military talent. He was rescued back to Qi and stayed at General Tian Ji's house. He decided to help Tian Ji with his horse race.

He learned that both Tian and the king have three horses in different classes; regular, plus, and super. The rule is to have three rounds in a match; each of the horses must be used in one round. Being the most powerful man in the country, the king has such great horses that in each class his horse is better than Tian's. Sun Bin also noticed that each time the speed difference between the King and Tian Ji's horses were rather small.

Using a little trick, Sun Bin helped Tian Ji win the race over the King for the first time.

Tian Ji used his regular class horse race against the super class from the king, they lost that round. But then his plus beat the king's regular, and his super beat the king's plus.

The King had never expected that result. He asked Tian Ji where he got those horses that could beat his. Tian Ji told him about Sun Bin's trick. The King met Sun Bin and the latter told him that when the two sides were match in power and proper strategies could bring success. The King then appointed Sun Bin as the strategic adviser to General Tian Ji. Afterwards the Qi's force won many battles with the help of Sun Bin.