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Lucena Position

  • #1

    I was reading about that maneuver at the endgame.  Does it happen frequently, or is it rare?  I learned that you can use this maneuver by reaching it even if it is not the rook pawn.  How do you people use it?  Prepare it?  Never used?  Really rare?

    Thanks in advance,

  • #2
  • #3
    I know the Lucena article at the Wikipedia. My question is if this position happens often or is rare. Or still if it can be set otb.
  • #4

    In my 24 years of playing, I have never had this position on the board.  However, since the Rook and Pawn endgame is the most common (15%), many grandmaster games have been won by using this knowledge. (The second most common endgame is two pawns against one at 10%.  These are for Kings plus up to three pieces.)

    Although these positions are rarely seen in games below the master level, due to too many mistakes, if you get into these endgames, you should know how to achieve/avoid the Lucena and avoid/achieve the Philidor.

  • #5

    This type of position you need to know

  • #6

    Rarity in real games is deceptive. Probably the rarest ending is Q+K vs K (except in blitz/bullet). Nevertheless it is of the utmost importance since not knowing it means you cannot win your pawn endings! The fact that everybody knows it causes people to avoid it, either by resigning or by chosing an alternative line.

    And so it is with the Lucena position. It is very important in the calculations of players during the game but it will not often occur on the board. Not in the games of weak players for the reason given by jonesmikechess and not in the games of (G)Ms because everybody knows the result. They'll probably resign when they see Lucena looming up close.

  • #7

    Beginner to Chess Master #19 - Lucena Position (The Shield)


  • #8
  • #9
    jambyvedar2 wrote:

    Beginner to Chess Master #19 - Lucena Position (The Shield)



    Very good video,  thanks!

  • #10

    happens all the time.,learn it. seriously. also learn the philidor position in rook endings.

  • #11

    Thanks, people, for the replies.

  • #12

    It's true that the Lucena position rarely occurs in games between top players.  It's even rarer at the club level - our propensity for mistakes make it less likely a game reaches the Lucena position.  Nevertheless, knowing how to win this ending is important for improving your chess, as the winning ideas come up often in more general endgames.  So when you learn this endgame, you get into the habit of keeping your pieces active in the endgame, trying to keep the opposing king from getting in front of your passed pawn (or getting your king in front of the dangerous pawn if you are the defender), using your pieces to "build bridges" i.e. blockade lines to allow a passed pawn to advance, and making sure your king has a way to hide from opposing checks.


    In short, understanding the Lucena position is not so much about knowing how to win a position that comes along once in a blue moon, it's about improving your endgame technique.  And, the better you get, the more important endgames become.

  • #13


    It's rare in the sense that the Lucena position maneuver is needed only when the pawn is a knigh-pawn. When it's a central or a bishop-pawn you still can use it, but there's an easier maeuver called "the bridge" which is more common, I'd say.


  • #14

    This site has an excellent set of drills for studying the Lucena position:



    For those who claim it's rare, it is one of the most important endgames a player can learn. The first open tournament I ever won was due to the Lucena position. In that tournament, three players had a perfect score going into the last round. On board one, I had the Lucena position against a master. On board 2, the other player with a perfect score, an expert, had the Lucena position against a master. I knew the endgame and won comfortably. On board 2, the expert didn't know it and couldn't find the win. The difference between knowing it and not knowing it was about $200 in one game!

  • #15
    riuryK wrote:


    It's rare in the sense that the Lucena position maneuver is needed only when the pawn is a knigh-pawn. When it's a central or a bishop-pawn you still can use it, but there's an easier maeuver called "the bridge" which is more common, I'd say.


    Errm, the bridge is part of learning the technique of winning the Lucena position. 

  • #16


    I know it's also called "the bridge", but this "bridge" is a different one. I don't think it has a name, or at least I don't know it, but the technique is differnt. Call it "the back door", whatever - I just wanted to point out that the technique used is different (see below). Note how you don't use the Lucena position when you have at least two files between the pawn and the edge of the board (hence c- d- e- or f-pawn).




  • #17

    I should add maybe that the Lucena position (even though you can use it on all files except for the H) is kind of a elaborated solution to the promotion of the b- or g-pawns since the ideal would be to use the "bridge" technique above, which is easier, but then you need a board with a Z- or an I-file! happy.png

  • #18

    Yes, I am sure you weren't mistaken. 

  • #19

    I hear people say it never comes up.  Guess what.  It does!  I had it come up twice back in 1998, and then not for a while.  But then:


    Round 3 of the 2015 NC Open

    Round 4 of the 2015 NC Open (Yes, the VERY NEXT MORNING - did it with my g-pawn in the 3rd round as Black and the f-pawn the 4th round as White!)

    Round 2 of the 2016 NC Open (1 year after the first two)

    Round 4 of the 2016 SC Championships (2 months later), I would have had it again if White played "correctly", but he did something else that lost quicker and it became unnecessary to execute the bridge.



    In 2660 games, I've had Lucena's position or something resembling it about 7 to 10 times all told, every time being on the winning end of it.


    I have also had Philidor's Draw, the case where the side lacking the pawn draws, at least 30 to 40 times, and a couple of times I had to use the Short Side Defense instead (against the Bishop pawn because my opponent already controlled the 6th rank).


    All three are critical to know, and in 2600+ games, I've had some form of one of those three endings a good 50 times, and almost every time I'm on the drawing side of Philidor's Draw and the winning side of Lucena's because having the Knowledge of both can result in you understanding what you must do to prevent your opponent from getting there, and therefore how to win being the pawn up or how to draw being the pawn down.  You not only need to know Lucena's Position, Philidor's Draw, and the Short Side Defense, you also need to know how to get to each one of them (or prevent your opponent from reaching the position if that is the case!).

  • #20

    And in post 16, the analysis is faulty.


    1.Rd2+ does work, but not with the follow-up giving in the analysis.  After 1...Kc7, then 2.Rd4!.  Only then do you start walking out with the King!


    The steps are simple:


    1) Get the opposing King 3 files away from the pawn (minimum - more is fine)

    2) Build the Bridge by putting the Rook on the 4th rank (5th rank if you are Black).

    3) Wiggle the King out until the check by the opposing rook can be interposed by the pawn.

    4) Don't ever move the King two files away from the file the pawn is on.  If the pawn is say, an e-pawn, the White King should never be on any files except d-, e-, and f-.

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