For the ones that never heard of the Lucena position, it a position where we have a KRP+KR ending, and the side with the extra pawn has his king in front of the pawn.

The problem is that when you try to move the king out of the pawn's way, the enemy rook will deliver annoying checks that will not stop unless you are familiar with the Lucena position and setup your rook in a certain way that will eventually be able to block the checks from the enemy rook.

(example of not knowing how to Lucena)

[fen "1K1k4/1P6/8/8/8/8/r7/2R5 w - - 4 1"]

1. Rd1+ Ke7 2. Kc7 Rc2+ 3. Kb8 Ke6 4. Ka7 Ra2+ 5. Kb6 Rb2+ 6. Kc6 Rc2+ 7. Kb5 Rb2+ 8. Kc6 Rc2+ 9. Kb6 Rb2+ 10. Ka7 Ra2+ 11. Kb8 *

How do I use the Lucena position in my favor?

  • I am planning to self-answer this at some point, telling about the importance of that little triangulation that makes everything possible, scenarios of when to put the rook on the 5th and 4th rank. But I need to research more
    – ajax333221
    Jun 28, 2013 at 18:12
  • isn't this a way to "steal" points in stackexchange?
    – Purefan
    Jun 28, 2013 at 18:47
  • To the extent of my knowledge, there is no scenario where the rook goes to the 5th rank. That is, unless you're playing semantics and you have the black pieces :)
    – Andrew Ng
    Jun 28, 2013 at 18:50
  • 6
    @Purefan No, answering one's own question, even immediately, is encouraged in Stack Exchange. Now, accepting your own answer is not possible for 48 hours (and even then you do not get reputation points from it), to give others incentive to answer as well. If your Q&A is good, we don't want to miss it! If it's bad, it'll be downvoted. There is no "stealing" involved.
    – Daniel
    Jun 28, 2013 at 18:59
  • 3
    @Andrew Ng White Ke6, Rf4, Pd7, Black Kg7, Rd2. White can play 1.Rf5 to make a 5th-rank bridge because Black doesn't gain anything by "attacking" it with 1...Kg6. I got this example from Bernd Rosen's Chess Endgame Training.
    – dfan
    Jun 28, 2013 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


The Lucena is one of the most important endgame positions to know, and the nickname for it helps a bunch when trying to figure it out over the board. Remember this phrase - "Building a Bridge."

The idea is to get your rook to the fourth rank. Although the move looks rather odd, the idea is simple. Once you bring your king out, he needs to be protected. Your king can advance all the way to the fifth rank, and after the check the rook can block and your pawn can queen. Allow me to use your example to demonstrate the Lucena:

[fen "1K1k4/1P6/8/8/8/8/r7/2R5 w - - 4 1"]

1. Rd1+ Ke7 2. Rd4! Rb2 3. Kc7 (3. Ra4 Kd7 4. Ka7 Kc7 5. b8=Q+ Rxb8 6. Rc4+ {works as well, as referenced by @dfan in the comments}) Rc2+ 4. Kb6 Rb2+ 5. Kc6 Rc2+ (5... Rb1 6. Rd5! Rc1+ 7. Rc5 Rb1 8. Rb5) 6. Kb5! Rb2+ 7. Rb4

And the pawn queens easily. The very first check is important because it forces the opposing king an extra file away from the queening square. As you can see, in the final position the black king is one tempo too slow to stop the pawn from reaching the eighth rank.

  • 1
    Another useful trick, if Black puts the rook behind the pawn as he did here with 2...Rb2 rather than 2...Ra1 (which would require the bridge), is 3.Ra4 Kd7 4.Ka7 (not 4.Ka8? or Black will capture the pawn with check) Kc7 5.b8Q+ Rxb8 6.Rc4+ Kd6 7.Kxb8.
    – dfan
    Jun 28, 2013 at 18:53
  • 1
    Edited with your recommendation!
    – Andrew Ng
    Jul 13, 2013 at 22:48
  • @dfan, 4.Ka8 works just as well as 4.Ka7 in your 3.Ra4 line, as long as it's followed up differently. E.g. 4.Ka8 Kc7 5.Rc4+ and White ends up with the same sort of K+R v. K ending as in the 4.Ka7 line. (Incidentally, the 5.Rc4+ idea works after 4.Ka7 too.)
    – ETD
    Oct 11, 2013 at 4:24
  • True, 4.Ka8 is only an error if White attempts to follow it up as in my 4.Ka7 line.
    – dfan
    Oct 12, 2013 at 0:07

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