Lucena Position Winning Plan

The Lucena position has been around for many centuries. It's a very important and elementary position in chess endgame theory concerning rooks.

If you see this position for the first time, take your time!

I'll help you familiarize with the attacking and defending plans. Knowing these plans will be a great help in your rook endings.

Let's first look into the essential ingredients of the Lucena position. They are:

- the attacking king is in front of its pawn on the queening square.

- the pawn has advanced to the seventh rank.

- the pawn can be any pawn except the rook's pawn.

- the defending king is cut off from the pawn by at least one file.

- the defending rook is on the file next to the pawn.

When you have such a position in your game, you have a winning position!

How To Win The Lucena Position?

If you're not familiar with the winning plan in the Lucena position, you might try things like 1. Rd1+, Kc7; 2. Ke7,

This will not get you any further. Black can now start checking your king and you can make no progress.

Therefore you'll have to know the winning plan. It's called "building a bridge".

I promise you, if you've seen this once, you'll never forget it.

Building a Bridge

I give you the starting position once more.

White starts with 1. Rd1+, and black has to be very careful. 1....Ke6 loses immediately to 2. Ke8.

Black has no threats and white will promote next move. To prevent this quick loss, black will have to defend by playing his king to the other side. So: 1...Kc7;

Now the first part of the bridge building starts: 2. Rd4! This is going to provide the white king shelter in the future.

Black doesn't have many options. He has to start checking the white king as soon as it leaves it's shelter. So: 2....Rg1;

Now the white king can leave its shelter (the second part of the bridge building). 3. Ke7, Re1+;

And the king travels further down the board. 4. Kf6, Rf1+;

5.Ke6 (protecting the pawn), Re1+;

6.Kf5!, Rf1+; 7.Rf4! (the third stage of the bridge-building).

Now the bridge-building has been finished. The King has a winning shelter and the white pawn will promote. This was the reason for playing Rd4 on the third move.

It's not something you will easily discover if you're playing a game. So learning it now may make your chess life a little easier.

After 5....Rf2 the attacker should play 6.Rd5, Rf1; 7. Rf5 and winning.

Defending the Lucena Position Another Way

Black ofcourse wants to prevent the above bridge building process.

He's able to do so with an alternative first move.

I'll show it here. So, if you're attacking, you'll know what to do and win the game anyway.

Instead of 1....Kc7, a defender you could play 1....Kc6;

This move isn't going to save the game, but if you're not familiar with this move, it may prove a stubborn defence.

You may just go ahead and try to build the bridge.

2.Rd4, Kc5;

Your rook is under attack now.

Don't retreat, as this is what the defender is hoping for.

Instead of retreating play 3. Rd7, and after Kc6;

The rook is in danger once more, but is doesn't matter.

4. Ke8! (this is a move to remember), Rf2; 5. Re7,

and the pawn will promote.

Another Winning Method

Another winning method (after 1....Kc6) would be 2. Ke7.

and now after 2....Re2; 3. Kd8,

The king is safe from checks again.

3....Rf2; 4. Rd7,

The pawn is protected now and the king is able to help the pawn promote.

Rf1; 5. Ke8, Rf2; 6. Re7,

and we've reached the position again where the pawn will promote.


The Lucena position is a clearly winning position.

You know how to build a bridge now, so you're able to win any Lucena position you come across.

As you know the other winning methods too, the defender isn't able to stop you, whatever he tries.

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