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The Lucena position is an important rook-and-pawn endgame considered fundamental to theoretical endgame understanding.

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 kl f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 kd d7 e7 pl f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 rd g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 rl h1 1
a b c d e f g h
The Lucena position.

Notation[]

1. Rc1 Kb7
2. Rc4 Rf1
3. Kd7 Rd1+
4. Ke6 Re1+
5. Kd6 Rd1+
6. Ke5! Re1+
7. Re4 Rxe4
8. Kxe4 Kc7
9. e8=Q ...

FEN: 4K3/2k1P3/8/8/8/8/5r2/6R1_w_-_-_0_1

Explanation[]

It starts off with 1. Rc1. The king has several options, but the most sensible one is 1. ... Kb7. (The naive 1. ... Kd6 gives White a quicker tactical shot at queening.) White follows up with 2. Rc4, and Black has no choice but to simply move a random piece, in this case 2. ... Rf1. The rook is unable to prevent the king from moving (which allows the pawn to promote), for if he moves to the d file, the king will simply escape through the f file.

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 kl f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 kd c7 d7 e7 pl f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 rl d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 rd g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
After 2 ... Rf1













The king then moves out to d7 to allow his pawn to promote. The rook checks the king with 3. ... Rd1+. White moves to the e file (but still out of the pawn's way) with 4. e6. Black once again checks the king with 4. ... Re1+.


a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 kd c7 d7 e7 pl f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 kl f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 rl d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 rd f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
After 4. ... Re1+





The king moves to d6, and the rook checks him with 5. ... d1+. The king moves out away from his pawn to e5. The rook once again checks with 6. ... e1+, and White counters with 7. Re4. Black exchanges rooks (7. ... Rxe4 8. Kxe4) and Black is now unable to prevent the pawn from promoting.

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 kd c7 d7 e7 pl f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 kl f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
After 8. Kxe4

Black moves his king with 8. ... Kc7, and White promotes, putting him in a position to easily checkmate the Black king.

The Lucena Position teaches a rule of thumb for rook-and-pawn endgames: the opposing king must be at least two files away from the promoting pawn. Otherwise, the promoted pawn would be taken.







Variations[]

1. ... Kd6[]

This variation is disastrous because it lets White slip his king off the e8 promotion square in such a way as to avoid check. The continuation:

  1. Rc1+ Kd6
  2. Kd8 Re2
  3. Rd1 Kc6
  4. e8=Q Rxe8
  5. Kxe8

leaves white with an elementary King and rook versus king mate.

Source[]

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