Lü Fan was from Runan Commandery in Yang Province. He was married to a woman of the Liu clan. He first served Yuan Shu, but later changed allegiance to Sun Ce. He was integral to the military progress of Wu and contributed much to the state's welfare until his death in 228.
Service under Yuan Shu and Sun Ce 
Lü Fan began his career as a minor official in the service of Yuan Shu. It was there that he met Sun Ce, one of Yuan Shu's young generals. They became close friends, and Lü Fan participated in all of Sun Ce's battles under Yuan Shu from then on.
It is said that Lü Fan recommended himself through a game of weiqi - Sun Ce made a bad opening move, and Lü Fan capitalized upon it, pointing out Sun's mistake. Sun Ce was suitably impressed and offered Lü Fan a post. Rather than accept a high and lofty position, however, Lü Fan insisted upon remaining in a low and humble one where he could more effectively manage troops. This also impressed Sun Ce, and the two became inseparable. The game of weiqi in question, called the "Sun-Lü Game", is purported to be the first weiqi game to be recorded move for move, but many scholars doubt its authenticity. After this, Lü Fan was appointed as Chief Controller.
At one point during the beginning of Sun Ce's career, Lü Fan was sent to fetch Sun's family from Guangling to Qu'e. The governor of Xu Province, Tao Qian, despised Sun Ce and sought to imprison Lü Fan as a spy and torture him, but some retainers freed him, and he was able to successfully rescue Sun Ce's family. Lü Fan became so trusted by Sun Ce that he was treated the same as a member of Sun's own family, given food and drink before Sun's own mother, Lady Wu.
Lü Fan was third only to Cheng Pu and Xu Kun in terms of merits, following Sun Ce in every battle. His unit defeated and killed Yan Baihu's subordinate, Chen Mu. Later, when Yuan Shu declared himself emperor, Sun Ce declared his independence, and Lü Fan remained with his forces, and even participated in battle against his former master. Chen Yu, a man appointed by Cao Cao to supposedly aid Sun Ce in the war against Yuan Shu, secretly plotted to destroy Sun Ce from within, but Sun foresaw this and sent Lü Fan to destroy him. Lü Fan decisively defeated Chen Yu, and as a result, Chen fled to Yuan Shao in the north, never to be heard from again.
Upon his victory over the leader of the remnants of Yuan Shu's forces, Liu Xun, as well as Huang Zu and Liu Biao at Sha County, Sun Ce submitted a memorial to the emperor, naming Lü Fan as designated Grand Administrator of Guiyang (an area within Liu Biao's jurisdiction) among other things.
Lü Fan served as Sun Ce's chief strategist historically, while in popular culture, that role is often fulfilled by Sun Ce's close friend, Zhou Yu. However, Zhou Yu was absent for many of Sun Ce's campaigns, whereas Lü Fan was present at each one.
Service under Sun Quan 
Lü Fan served as one of Sun Quan's most trusted civil officers. Initially, before Sun Ce's death, Sun Quan and Lü Fan had had some disagreement - being young and foolhardy, Sun Quan often took money for personal interests and asked Lü Fan to fix the books. Lü Fan, however, remained honest, thus causing Sun Quan to dislike him. After his brother's death, however, Sun Quan matured greatly and admired Lü Fan's earlier honesty, thus valuing him highly.
In 208, Cao Cao led a fleet to the Battle of Red Cliffs in hope of destroying his weakened rival, Liu Bei, and sought Sun Quan's assistance in the matter. At the request of Zhou Yu and others, however, Sun Quan instead opposed Cao Cao and allied with Liu Bei. Lü Fan participated in the battle, serving as a subordinate to Zhou Yu.
After the victory at Red Cliffs, Lu Su suggested ceding the southern part of Jing Province to Liu Bei. Zhou Yu and Lü Fan protested against such a plan, but after Zhou Yu's death in 210, Sun Quan agreed to Lu Su's plan instead, even allowing additional concessions to Liu Bei.
In 223, Wei generals Cao Xiu and Zang Ba launched an attack on Dongkou. Lü Fan commanded the defense, leading men such as Sun Shao and Xu Sheng into battle. Things went poorly for Wu from the start: a heavy wind came and destroyed much of Lü Fan's fleet, and Cao Xiu attacked viciously. To further add to Wu's troubles, Sun Quan's younger brother, Sun Lang, accidentally burnt Lü Fan's supplies of food and weaponry. Miraculously, Sun Shao and Xu Sheng were able to counterattack, and it was through their hard work that the battle was won.
Afterwards, Lü Fan was appointed as governor of Yang Province and commander-in-chief. However, he died shortly after his appointment in 228. It is said that Sun Quan wept deeply upon his death, crying out his name repeatedly.
Descendants and legacy 
Lü Fan was succeeded by two sons, the first of which had died young. The third, Lü Ju, inherited his father's title of nobility and was a talented general in his own right. However, in 252, he was part of a plot to overthrow the tyrannical Wu general, Sun Chen, and when his part in the plot was discovered, he committed suicide before he could be imprisoned and executed.
Appointments and titles held 
- Chancellor of Hushu (湖孰相)
- Area Commander of Wu (吳都督)
- General of the Household Who Attacks Barbarians (征虜中郎將)
- Major General (裨將軍)
- Administrator of Pengze (彭澤太守)
- General Who Pacifies the South (平南將軍)
- General Who Establishes Might (建威將軍)
- Marquis of Wanling (宛陵侯)
- Administrator of Danyang (丹楊太守)
- General of the Vanguard (前將軍)
- Marquis of Nanchang (南昌侯)
- Governor of Yang Province (揚州牧)
- Grand Marshal (大司馬) - granted to Lü Fan posthumously
See also 
- Chen Shou (2002). Records of Three Kingdoms, Volume 56, Biography of Lü Fan. Yue Lu Shu She. ISBN 7-80665-198-5.
- Lo Kuan-chung; tr. C.H. Brewitt-Taylor (2002). Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3467-9.
- Dr. Rafe de Crespigny (1990). Generals of the South. National Library of Australia. ISBN 0-7315-0901-3.