6.3. Rook and Pawn Versus Rook (Lucena Position)
Lucena Position is one of key positions in Rook vs Pawn Endgames. In most cases these endgames are a draw, especially when the pawn is distant from the promotion square. When the pawn is relatively close, the crucial question is if the weaker side’s king will manage to get in front of it. If White succeeds in “cutting it off”, the win is at hand. However, depending on the pawn’s position, Black often has a very tough, and sometimes even unbreakable defence available.
The simplest case with the pawn on the seventh rank and the cut off king is theoretically known as a “Lucena’s position”. It got its name after a Spanish chess player J. Lucena who lived in the 15th century, although the first written account of it was left by an Italian A. Salvioli in 1634. Although his king is on the eighth rank, White wins by driving the opponent’s king one file further and building a “bridge” on the fourth rank.
Lucena position and Philidor position are two basic rook endings. Every serious chess player must have a good knowledge of these two endings. They represent a common knowledge and should be studied prior to other rook endgames.