Pawns move in two ways, single square forward or two squares forward from their initial position. Pawns can't move backward, but they capture diagonally, even with a special capturing move called “En passant” a French term meaning “in passing.” Pawns can't jump over and can't move forward in an occupied square.
The pawn is easily one of the most overlooked pieces in the game of chess. Many players choose to concentrate on learning about how to use other pieces first, but this often ends up hindering their overall chess game.
Pawns are pretty much the building blocks of chess. They can be used for offense or defense, depending on the position. The pawn is also the most powerful piece when used correctly.
Knowledge of pawn rules can help you defend your pieces from capture and push your way to victory. Let's take a look at 22 interesting pawn rules in chess and popular myths that you should know!
1. Chess pawn position
The pawns are the easiest to set up on the board; initially, chess pawns are positioned one square in front of other chess pieces (rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king). To be exact, the white pawns are located on the second rank, while the black pawns are positioned on the seventh rank.
New chess players who are just starting to learn how to play chess can follow the pawn setup below;
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2. Chess pawn moves
How does a pawn move? A pawn moves by advancing one square, but pawns can also move two squares from their starting position. This happens typically at the very beginning of the game or opening game. King's pawn opening is one of the examples where pawns move two squares forward.
Check the image below of King's opening;
It would be best to keep in mind that pawns can start with an opening game by moving one square. French defense opening is one of the examples of this where pawns start with advancing one square.
Check the image below of the French defense;
Watch the video below on how to move the pawns;
Although pawns move two squares at the initial starting position, they cannot jump over any piece or capture any piece by moving forward, and they can never move backward. Pawn capture is different, though…
Pawn capture and special pawn move
In general, pawns capture by moving diagonally rather than forward – pawns do not capture by moving directly in front of the chess square. Pawn has a special pawn capture move in which it takes a pawn but does not occupy the square of the captured piece.
The special pawn capture move is what you call “En Passant” or “In Passing”…
This special pawn capture needs to occur immediately, and it cannot be used after you make a different move except the “En Passant” move!
Read related article where I've answered questions about en passant in chess.
Important: It is a special pawn capture that can only occur immediately after a pawn makes a move of two squares from its starting square, and a pawn adjacent to it will have the advantage to capture it.
Check out the image below on how “En Passant” works;
Watch the videos below to understand;
3. How do you identify pawns on a chessboard using notations?
It's easy to identify other chess pieces like a rook, bishop, king, and queen when reading chess notations – knights and pawns are a little bit different. When you see R, it means the rook, B for bishop, K for the king, and Q for Queen. However, knights are notated as N, and pawns are identified by their corresponding letters on the board.
Pawn notations are like this, if your pawn is positioned in the “a file,” they can be written as a2 because it is on the second rank – a for the file and 2 for the rank. Now, when the pawn captures another piece, it then takes the letter of the file and corresponding number on the board.
Here is an example of a pawn notation;
4. Can you castle after moving pawns?
Even if you move your pawns anywhere on the board, you can still make the castling move as long as two main pieces of the castling move have not been moved – they are the King and Rook. Pawns are not part of the actual castling move, and they are not involved either on the kingside or the queenside.
5. Do you need three pawns to castle?
Three pawns are not needed to perform castling. Only a King and Rook that are on the corner of the board are used to perform castling, either kingside castling or queenside castling. Both of them should still be in their initial position.
Read a related article or check out more information in the video below;
6. Can a pawn capture on its first move?
Can any of the pawns on the board capture on its first move? No, not all pawns can capture on its first move, especially the pawns on d and e, but pawns on a, b, c, and f, g, h can capture on its first move. It's because the very first move of a game normally e4, or d4 pawn, can not capture on its first move.
Can a pawn attack on its first move?
If the very first move of a game is a pawn to e4, it does position itself to attack the center of the board, which means yes, pawns can attack its very first move.
Let's be clear that pawns can kill, take or capture on their very first move but not the first pawn move of the entire duration of the game.
Always remember that the pawn captures an opponent's chess piece by moving one space diagonally forward. It is the only piece that does not take a piece the same way as it moves and does not move backward or does not capture backward!
7. Can pawn checkmate King?
Can a pawn checkmate a King? Yes, a pawn can checkmate a king, and any chess piece on the board can perform a checkmate. A king cannot be taken, so it only means that a square is being protected or attacked, which means the king cannot move into that square; it can be by a pawn.
8. Pawn stalemate
Stalemate often happens during the endgame, and the most usual setup is a king and pawn stalemate. You need to be very careful during the endgame, especially if you are winning!
I've experienced this several times, and it is very frustrating; you need to practice king and pawn endgames; here are some examples of pawn stalemate you should study and learn;
9. Pawn strategy
Pawn strategy is how you effectively use the pawn's structure to win a chess piece, gain an advantage or ultimately win the game. If you implement and fully understand pawn formations, you will most likely overwhelm your opponent, especially if they don't know all about pawn strategies.
Pawns are the backbone of chess. You always need to keep an eye on your pawn structure and how it can be used to create a powerful attack or defense. The following strategy will help you understand how pawns work in various positions so that you can use them as part of your game plan!
10. Pawn Endgame
Pawn endgames are usually easier to master than the rest of the endgame. This is because many positions frequently occur in practical games, and beginners can improve their skills by learning how to handle them well.
11. Pawns can kill a King
In chess, a king can be killed by a pawn, which is often overlooked by newcomers. Many new chess players are surprised when they learn that a pawn can kill the king. This is something that experienced players know and understand from the beginning, but it's not always obvious to beginners.
Pawns can kill or checkmate a king in two ways;
- First is when a pawn blocks available squares for the king.
- The second is when a pawn actually delivers the final checkmate to the king.
You should keep in mind, though, that a lone pawn cannot checkmate a King, just like other pieces.
12. Pawns cannot take a Queen
Can pawns Take a queen? Yes, during exchanges, a single pawn or two pawns can capture a queen. In order to do that, you should have already planned the attack, and also, you should have set up a trap for the queen. Your pawn should be one square diagonally forward to an opponent's queen to be able to make a capture.
13. Pawns can attack forward
Do pawns attack forward? Yes, a pawn can be advanced to the third or fourth rank to attack the enemy pieces directly. Pawns move forward and capture diagonally; pawns cannot move or attack backward. If any piece is in front of a pawn, that means the pawn cannot move forward because it is being blocked.
14. Pawns can move two squares forward
When a pawn starts from its initial position, it can move two squares forward, but pawns normally move one square forward. After moving two squares forward from the starting point, pawns will have to move one square forward.
15. Pawns can move backward
Does the pawn move or attack backward? No, pawns can only move forward and attack or capture diagonally. It is the only chess piece that moves and captures differently.
16. Pawns can move diagonally
Can pawn chess pieces move diagonally? A pawn can move diagonally only if it captures, takes, or moves to the space of an opponent's chess piece. For instance, you could make a special capture called En Passant by moving diagonally and capturing an adjacent opponent piece.
17. Pawns can jump over other chess pieces
Can pawns jump over other chess pieces? No, pawns do not or cannot jump over other chess pieces except they can move or capture diagonally. The only chess piece that can jump over other chess pieces is the knight.
It's important to remember that pawns cannot jump over pieces, the only chess piece that can jump and capture a piece is a knight.
18. Pawn En Passant move can be used anytime you wish
Can we use the “En Passant” move anytime you wish? You can use the “En Passant” move immediately after it occurs. The En Passant move is one of the moves you can do with your pawns, but it has to happen at the right time.
19. Pawn En Passant move should be used once
Is the pawn “En Passant” move can only be used once? No, you can use the “En Passant” move many times if it occurs during a game immediately! The pawn “En Passant” move should be used whenever it is legal to do so and should be done immediately after it occurs.
20. Pawns can become a King
Can pawns become king in chess? The answer is no; the rule being considered is the pawn promotion rules. A chess promotion is a rule that requires a pawn that reaches the eighth rank to be replaced by the player's choice of a bishop, knight, rook, or queen of the same color. The piece chosen cannot be another king nor another pawn.
Can you promote a pawn to an inverted rook? It is illegal to promote a pawn to an inverted rook, and the arbiter should decide if this is allowed, especially if there is no available queen or piece for changing the pawn.
Related article: A helpful guide to pawn promotion
The rules for the game are very specific on what pieces you can promote a pawn into. You're allowed to promote them to queens, rooks, bishops, or knights of the same color regardless of how many pieces there are left on the board.
If a queen isn't available, then time is stopped, and an arbiter gets summoned in order to find one!
22. Promoted pawns cannot be captured immediately
Can a promoted pawn be taken immediately? Yes, a promoted pawn can be taken immediately. I have done this many times, especially during the endgame where my opponent is going to promote his pawn to a queen; my rook is ready to capture the promoted pawn immediately.
Do not forget this important reminder when your pawn moves to the other side you should be ready with the piece that you're going to use for the promotion. Also check article about pawn moves in chess.
Now that you are familiar with several useful pawn rules and some popular myths, it's time to start playing chess! 🙂
Hopefully, this article gave you the much-needed confidence to improve your pawn rules knowledge and help you turn into a better chess player. Think of this as a guide that you can easily refer to anytime you have questions or have some doubts during a game and it involves pawns.
This guide will be updated from time to time, so I suggest you bookmark this page!
You can always test your knowledge by playing online here! Enjoy learning pawn rules! 🙂
Gary is a chess enthusiast and has three children who also enjoy learning the game. He is a co-author of the "Chess Fundamentals" digital interactive book a ChessDelights Edition. He founded ChessDelights.com in order to brush up on his understanding of this tactic and strategy game. He also enjoys encouraging those who are learning, re-learning, or instructing their children in the game of chess.
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What is the weird pawn rule in chess? ›
“A pawn attacking a square crossed by an opponent's pawn which has advanced two squares in one move from its original square may capture this opponent's pawn as though the latter had been moved only one square. This capture is only legal on the move following this advance and is called an 'en passant' capture.”Can a pawn take a queen on the first move? ›
What can a pawn do in chess? Pawns generally move one space forward, or two on their first move. They can capture another piece only diagonally (otherwise they “butt heads” with the piece or pawn in front of them).What are the top 5 important rules in playing chess? ›
- If you are not attacking, you're defending. ...
- If you don't have any pieces left, remember, the King is a piece too. ...
- Don't feel sorry for your opponents, they won't feel sorry for you. ...
- If you see a good combination, go for it. ...
- If you are losing, start taking calculated risks.
- Castling. The special move castling allows a player to legally break three of the basic movement rules of chess! ...
- Pawn Promotion. ...
- En passant.
Generally, the weakest link in a pawn chain is at the base, the very last pawn at the back of the chain. 3) Passed pawns: Pawns that cannot be stopped from queening by the opponent's pawns are called passed pawns.What is the most powerful pawn in chess? ›
The queen (♕, ♛) is the most powerful piece in the game of chess. It can move any number of squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally , combining the powers of the rook and bishop.Can a bishop jump over a pawn? ›
Bishop. The Bishop moves in a straight line diagonally on the board. It can move as many squares as wanted, until it meets the end of the board or another piece. The bishop cannot jump over other pieces.Can a pawn take a bishop? ›
The pawn may capture either the rook or the knight, but not the bishop, which blocks the pawn from moving directly forward.What is the best pawn to move first in chess? ›
Remembering this will help you to understand the principles we're about to discuss. 1) Good chess strategy is to make your first move with the e-pawn or d-pawn advancing two squares. In either case, you will open pathways for the pieces to get off of the back rank and into the fight for the central squares.What is the number 1 rule in chess? ›
Chess Rule #1: Touch move
We cannot emphasise how essential it is. Games are won and lost at a stroke with this rule. So here goes… the rule states that when a chess player intentionally touches one of his pieces, he or she must make a move with this piece (of course, if there is a legal move available).
What is the 75 move rule? ›
If seventy-five moves are made without a pawn move or capture being made, the game is drawn unless the seventy-fifth move delivers a checkmate. No claim needs to be made by either player, as the draw is mandatorily applied by the arbiter.
No pieces can be captured and no pawns can be moved. Every 20 moves, you can remove one of your opponents pawns.What are the 4 special moves in chess? ›
What Are Special Chess Moves? Castling. Pawn Promotion. En Passant Capture.What is the golden rule of chess? ›
GOLDEN RULE: A piece is safe only as long as it defended by the same number of pieces that are attacking it. If your opponent attacks one of your pieces, count the number of your pieces that defend it immediately to make sure that it is safe.What is the 25 move rule in chess? ›
There is no 25 move rule anywhere in chess. The original post said that 25 moves were already made after the last piece was taken. So 25+25=50. I understood stalemate to be that you could not make any legal moves.What is the most powerful figure in chess? ›
The queen is known as the most powerful piece on the chess board, so the prospect of sacrificing it invokes an unparalleled excitement among chess enthusiasts. There is something inherently satisfying about giving up the strongest piece on the board in order to checkmate the enemy king.What is the most useful chess piece? ›
The modern queen is the most valuable piece in the game of chess, and a key component in countless chess strategies. In material terms, the queen is valued at nine points—equivalent in value to three minor pieces, nearly as valuable as both rooks, and more valuable than every one of your pawns.What pawns get the most money? ›
If you want to get the most amount of cash, focus on jewelry with gold, diamonds, or platinum. And don't think that jewelry must be in perfect condition. Most pawn shops will take broken pieces as they still have value.What is the 2nd most powerful chess piece? ›
As mentioned, the rook is the second most powerful piece (behind the queen). The rook can move forward, backward or sideways, but cannot move diagonally (like a queen or a bishop).Who is the most important piece but one of the weakest in chess? ›
The king is the most important piece, but is one of the weakest. The king can only move one square in any direction - up, down, to the sides, and diagonally.
Which is the only piece on a chess board that Cannot check a king? ›
Answer: According to the question, the KING cannot check the king.What is elephant in chess? ›
The alfil, alpil, or elephant is a fairy chess piece that can jump two squares diagonally. It first appeared in shatranj. It is used in many historical and regional chess variants. It was used in standard chess before being replaced by the bishop in the 15th and 16th centuries.Can a king take a queen? ›
summary: the king can take the queen if the queen moves right next to him and has no pieces supporting her.Can a pawn take a queen? ›
Yes, a pawn can capture the queen. This can happen if it has already captured one of the opponent's men. The pawn then has a special move where it can go one square diagonally. Was this answer helpful?Can a pawn take out a king? ›
If you're new to chess, you might be curious as to whether a pawn can take a king. The answer is yes—although it takes some extra help and fancy maneuvering around the chessboard to do so. Learn more about how to use a pawn to take an enemy king.Can a pawn capture backwards? ›
A: The Pawn moves directly forward, never backward or to the side. Pawns capture a piece that is one square diagonally forward. Though Pawns normally cannot move diagonally, this is the only way they capture.Can a pawn move backwards? ›
The Pawn can never move backwards. The Pawn also has a special move called "En Passant", which you can read about in special moves section below. But what happens when a pawn reaches the other side? If the Pawn reaches the opposite side of the chessboard, it has the unique ability to promote to another piece.What does 960 mean in chess? ›
Chess960, or Fischer Random, is a variant invented by the late World Champion Bobby Fischer. The rules of the game are the same as standard chess, but in an effort to reduce the impact of opening theory, the pieces have been randomly shuffled on each player's back rank.Why is f7 important in chess? ›
The f7 square is widely considered the weakest point on the board for black. It is the only square that is not defended by any of the minor or major pieces and it is a pivotal square that protects the black king.Is there a 21 rule in chess? ›
There is no 21 move rule.
What is 16 move rule in chess? ›
There is no 16 move rule. There is also no rule related to one player having only a king. There is a 50 move rule, but it's reset every time there is a capture or a pawn move by either player.What is the 50 move pawn rule? ›
Proper noun. (chess) A rule in professional chess that a player may declare the game to be a draw after 50 consecutive moves by each side without any capture or pawn movement, usually invoked during an inconclusive endgame.What is FIDE 50 move rule? ›
The 50 move rule means that if both players make 50 moves without captures or pawn moves then the game is automatically a draw. This usually happens in an endgame if you had just a king left or a king and a few pieces and the opponent cannot checkmate you.Can king move without check? ›
A king can move one square horizontally, vertically, or diagonally unless the square is already occupied by a friendly piece or the move would place the king in check. If the square is occupied by an undefended enemy piece, the king may capture it, removing it from play.Is there Max moves in chess? ›
ways to play the first ten moves of chess. The longest chess game theoretically possible is 5,949 moves. The record of moves without capture is of 100 moves during the Match between Thorton and M. Walker in 1992.How many illegal moves are there in chess? ›
After the action taken under Article 7.4. a, for the first two illegal moves by a player the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent in each instance; for a third illegal move by the same player, the arbiter shall declare the game lost by this player.What is it called when you win chess in 2 moves? ›
The two-move checkmate (or Fool's Mate) is a set of chess moves that allows the black player (who controls the black pieces on the board) to checkmate the white king in two moves.What is the 15 move rule in chess? ›
There is no 15 move rule in standard chess.What is the secret of winning chess? ›
How do you win a chess game? The goal of chess is to checkmate your opponent. Checkmate happens when the king is attacked by another piece and has no way to escape. At that point, the game is over.What does +7 mean in chess? ›
Chess engines (computer programs) use a standard notation to indicate who is better off (White or Black) in a given position. A positive ("+") number means that White's position is better. A negative ("-") means things look better for Black.
What are the 10 chess opening rules? ›
- OPEN with a CENTER PAWN.
- DEVELOP with threats.
- KNIGHTS before BISHOPS.
- DON'T move the same piece twice.
- Make as FEW PAWN MOVES as possible in the opening.
- DON'T bring out your QUEEN too early.
- CASTLE as soon as possible, preferably on the KING SIDE.
- ALWAYS PLAY TO GAIN CONTROL OF THE CENTER.
Follow 20/40/40 Rule
That's where 20/40/40 rule comes handy. For an under 2000 rated player, it makes sense to spend 20% of the time on openings, 40% on Middlegame and 40% on Endgame. Besides that, you should play practice games, solve tactics and analyze.
If the player uses five seconds for a move, five seconds is added after they complete their move. This ensures that the main time left on the clock can never increase even if a player makes fast moves. As with increment, the delay time is applied to the first move under FIDE and US Chess rules.Can a king put a king in check? ›
Under the standard rules of chess, a player may not make any move that places or leaves their king in check. A player may move the king, capture the threatening piece, or block the check with another piece. A king cannot itself directly check the opposing king, since this would place the first king in check as well.What happens when only king and pawn is left? ›
If both players are left with a bare king, the game is immediately drawn.Can a pawn become a queen if you already have a queen? ›
Players can also promote a pawn to a more powerful piece in play on the board, so it's possible to have a second queen or more (up to nine queens). Once pawn promotion takes place, the opposing player must move unless they are in checkmate.What is a poisoned pawn in chess? ›
poisoned pawn (plural poisoned pawns) (chess) An unprotected pawn whose capture would be a losing move for the capturing player.What happens in chess if your pawn gets to the other side? ›
If the Pawn reaches the opposite side of the chessboard, it has the unique ability to promote to another piece. The pawn can become a Queen, Bishop, Rook, or Knight. There are no restrictions to how many pieces of a given type you can have via promotion.Can a king check a king? ›
Under the standard rules of chess, a player may not make any move that places or leaves their king in check. A player may move the king, capture the threatening piece, or block the check with another piece. A king cannot itself directly check the opposing king, since this would place the first king in check as well.Can a pawn take a king straight on? ›
Can a Pawn Kill a King in a Game of Chess? A pawn can't outright kill or capture the opponent's king in the same way it can with the opponent's pieces in general. This is because no attacking pieces can outright capture or kill the king—they can only trap or checkmate it.
What happens when 2 kings meet in chess? ›
Since kings cannot move adjacent to each other, each king prevents the other's advance, creating a mutual blockade. In this situation, the player not having to move is said to have the opposition.When should you not promote to a queen? ›
The most common scenario in which promotion to a queen becomes unwise is when there is the possibility of an immediate stalemate. A stalemate occurs whenever an opponent's king is not in check, but the opponent also has no legal moves to make.When should you Underpromote a pawn? ›
If the queen is so powerful, why would anyone want to underpromote their pawns? There are several reasons why a player would choose to do so. Creating a devastating attack, avoiding a draw, and defending against an imminent threat are the main reasons for underpromotions.Can a pawn trap a king? ›
A pawn cannot take a king because no piece can take the king. It is illegal to end your turn if your king can be captured, and if there is no move that can avoid this, its checkmate, you lose and the game is over. Kings are never captured.What is killing called in chess? ›
The object of the game is to attack your opponent's King in such a way that he cannot prevent you from killing it (this is called checkmate) while at the same time preventing him from doing the same to you.What is chess punishment? ›
If your opponent commits chess "crimes", they need to punished. Sometimes the "trial" is long and the execution takes place in the endgame. Sometimes the crimes are misdemeanors and, if your opponent plays well after the crime, they are expunged from his record for good behavior.Which player always makes the first move? ›
In chess, there is a general consensus among players and theorists that the player who makes the first move (White) has an inherent advantage. Since 1851, compiled statistics support this view; White consistently wins slightly more often than Black, usually scoring between 52 and 56 percent.Whose turn is it after a pawn promotion? ›
In chess, promotion is the replacement of a pawn with a new piece when the pawn is moved to its last rank . The player replaces the pawn immediately with a queen, rook, bishop, or knight of the same color .