Top 8 chess en passant questions answered with en passant examples

By Gary Flores •  Last Updated: 5 months ago •  12 min read

En passant is an excellent move that can catch your opponent off guard. It is one of the chess moves that I have always been looking forward to executing in every game that I play.

I have surprised a lot of my friends, especially those who are still learning about chess with this move, and it's a fun move to make when the opportunity comes during a chess game. I played this move once to my daughter, who was just 6 years old at that time, and her eyes became big! Lol!

A very useful guide that can also help you is this guide about chess pawn rules.

Although this chess en passant move at this day of age should have been very familiar to a lot of beginners, sad to say some of us have not seen it used in full action, I mean in an actual game where en passant ended a real game.

In this post, I’m going to answer the top 8 questions about en passant and give you an example of how a chess en passant move was used to end a game.

Top 8 chess en passant questions answered with en passant examples

So, for beginners, the first question about en passant is obvious what the meaning of this chess move is?

1. What is the en passant move?

En passant is a very shocking move and is usually referred to as a special move for pawns only!

It is a special move for capturing a pawn, but differently with special conditions that should be strictly followed.

I say it is a shocking move because of how this special move or rule came to be, and this move restricts another special move of a pawn, which is a double square move from its initial position. 

An opposing pawn can then capture a pawn that moves a double square even after avoiding capture from the first square; it just passed. Shocking right?

To give you a more direct and concise answer, here is a definition from the FIDE handbook “Law of 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.”

The next question that may come to mind is it even legal to nullify a special chess move like the double square move with another special chess move (en passant)?

Reference link: The FIDE Law of Chess

The answer is, Yes, en passant is a legal move in chess, and this rule has been integrated into chess rules during the 15th Century.

And the reason it was added is because of this other special move by a pawn, which is the double square move.

So, it is a very legal move in chess! 🙂

There can also come a time that a supposed stalemate or draw game can be continued by an en passant if that option is available for you.

3. When can you use en passant in a chess game?

This chess en passant capture can only be used exactly after the opponent’s double square move of the pawn.

So, now we understand that en passant move depends on another special move by a pawn, which isn’t going to be special after an en passant capture… 🙂

If you know the en passant rule, you can use it to your advantage, strategy-wise, or depending on your chess tactic, and you can also attempt to persuade your opponent to make an en passant move for your advancement!

But basically, en passant move is after a double square move of the pawn!

4.How many times can you make an en passant move in a chess game?

You can make an en passant move as long as you still have enemy pawns adjacent to your pawn who can again make a double square move.

This also means that you can’t have all your pawns waiting for that opportunity of en passant move because all of the pawns would have moved away from their initial square.

I’ve only experienced doing a maximum of two times of en passant moves to my opponent when I was still playing actively in chess tournaments.

I’m sure there are many cases that en passant occurs more than three times, or a combined en passant moves of two players can also happen in a single game!

The main thing you need to remember is that there is no number or limit on how many times you can use en passant in a chess game!

5.Can a pawn move diagonally without capturing any chess piece?

Moving your pawn diagonally without capturing any of your opponent’s chess pieces is illegal. It doesn’t exist, and I have never seen any chess game that a pawn move diagonally!

The only chess pieces that can move diagonally without capturing any piece are the following:

Do not confuse yourself with some online chess platforms that mistakenly allow a pawn to move diagonally, and there is no such thing!

I don’t even advise you to try it on an actual game, and you might get disqualified or also lose trust from your chess friends!

6. Can a pawn en passant a Queen?

Would it be impressive if your pawn can en passant a Queen whenever you have the chance to do so?

That would be another special move or special privilege by a pawn that can also be taken away once the authorities noticed it's a powerful move! 🙂

To answer the question, if a pawn can en passant a Queen, the answer is nope! The en passant move is made explicitly for capturing pawns and no other chess piece.

I’m not sure if there was a time that this was allowed, but as of now, making an en passant move to capture a Queen is an illegal move! I haven’t seen any chess player trying to do that in any chess notation too!

7. How do you record or notate an en passant move?

Now, how do we record or notate an en passant move? The notation for en passant is “e.p.”

Pretty straightforward, and you can easily remember “e” for en and “p” for passant! It would typically be written at the end of the move and keep it in a small letter.

Here is a quick example of en passant in chess notation:

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. e5 d5 4. exd6e.p

Note: Sometimes you will not find the symbols e.p in a chess notation because the author already assumes that you know what an en passant move already is.

8. Can you win by en passant move?

In chess, every player will try to win in every situation as much as we can. Take advantage of every opportunity available!

I’ve been in chess tournaments wherein I always do my best to escape every difficult chess position etc.

So, the answer about you can win by en passant move in chess is, yes you can win by en passant move.

I would like to show you some examples I found on the internet that shows an en passant ending games:

Examples of chess en passant games that end in checkmate

I was searching for the best examples of en passant games on the internet, and I found four examples below, and it all ended with a checkmate.

According to Mr. Frederick Rhine, owner of the last two games below, ending a game by checkmate using en passant, it is very rare to find a game that ended in checkmate by capturing pawn en passant compared to checkmate by castling.

However, he said that nowadays en passant checkmate has become more common because you can play thousands of games online.

Here are four examples of chess en passant checkmate:

1. En passant checkmate: Queen’s pawn game 

 For this example, white wins by en passant checkmate.

 It took 33 moves to finish the game, and black played Queen’s fianchetto.

 On this 18th move of the game, Frederick played his first en passant capture.

On this 27th move, white moves its pawn to h4, which doesn’t seem to be a threat at all.

On the 29th move, white checked the black King, which is an excellent move, and white will be able to capture the black Rook no matter what black moves.

On the 32nd move in the game, it is clear that the game will end in checkmate.

Last move of the game where an en passant capture and checkmate is performed.

You can follow this chess game using the notation below:

1. d4 b6 2. e4 ♗b7 3. ♗d3 e6 4. ♘f3 ♘f6 5. ♕e2 h6 6. e5 ♘d5 7. a3 ♗e7 8. c4 O-O 9. cxd5 ♗xd5 10. ♘c3 ♗b7 11. O-O d6 12. ♘e4 dxe5 13. dxe5 ♘c6 14. ♗f4 ♘d4 15. ♘xd4 ♕xd4 16. ♖ad1 ♖ad8 17. ♖fe1 f5 18. exf6 ♗xf6 19. ♘xf6+ ♕xf6 20. ♗xc7 ♖xd3 21. ♖xd3 ♗a6 22. ♗g3 ♗xd3 23. ♕xd3 ♕xb2 24. ♖xe6 ♖f6 25. ♖e8+ ♔f7 26. ♕d7+ ♔g6 27. h4 ♕xa3 28. ♖g8 ♖f7 29. h5+ ♔h7 30. ♕xf7 ♕a1+ 31. ♔h2 a5 32. ♕f8 g5 33. hxg6# [1-0]

2.  En passant checkmate: Queen’s gambit accepted.

Another game by Frederick, who played white and won by en passant checkmate.

This came took 38 moves to finish with an en passant, and the game is a Queen’s gambit accepted: Sadulete variation.

On the 13th move, the white made its first en passant capture in the game.

On the 32nd move pawn on h4, which now becomes a strong move to attack the black knight.

On the 37th move, white moves the pawn to h5, preparing for a rook checkmate on h8, and it is clear that black is going to lose.

On the 38th move, white en passant captures g6, which ends the game with en passant checkmate!

You can follow the chess game using the notation below:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 c6 4. ♗xc4 ♘f6 5. ♘c3 e6 6. ♘f3 ♗e7 7. O-O O-O 8. ♖e1 b5 9. ♗d3 ♘bd7 10. e5 ♘d5 11. ♗c2 b4 12. ♕d3 f5 13. exf6 ♘7xf6 14. ♘a4 a5 15. ♘g5 ♗a6 16. ♕h3 h6 17. ♕xe6+ ♔h8 18. ♘f7+ ♖xf7 19. ♕xf7 ♕d6 20. ♘c5 ♖f8 21. ♕e6 ♗c8 22. ♕xd6 ♗xd6 23. ♘e6 ♗xe6 24. ♖xe6 ♗f4 25. ♖xc6 ♗xc1 26. ♖xc1 ♘f4 27. ♖e1 ♖d8 28. g3 ♘h3+ 29. ♔g2 ♘g5 30. ♗g6 ♖xd4 31. ♖c8+ ♘g8 32. h4 ♘h7 33. ♗f7 ♘hf6 34. ♗xg8 ♘xg8 35. ♖ee8 ♖d2 36. ♖xg8+ ♔h7 37. h5 g5 38. hxg6# [1-0]

3.  En passant checkmate: French defense

Here is a game played by Gunnar Gundersen and wins via en passant checkmate playing white.

This particular game ended in 15 moves, and its a French defense: Advanced variation.

On the 11th move, white played pawn h4 protecting the knight on g5 and eventually became the pawn that will perform en passant checkmate.

On the 14th move, the white made an open check by moving knight captures e6; black is losing the game at this point and makes a terrible mistake with g5.

On the 15th move, white’s pawn on h5 en passant capture g5 and checkmate the black King.

You can follow this chess game using the notation below:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 cxd4 5. cxd4 ♗b4+ 6. ♘c3 ♘c6 7. ♘f3 ♘ge7 8. ♗d3 O-O 9. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 10. ♘g5+ ♔g6 11. h4 ♘xd4 12. ♕g4 f5 13. h5+ ♔h6 14. ♘xe6+ g5 15. hxg6# [1-0]

4.  En passant checkmate: Polish opening

This last en passant example Alexander Tishkov won by en passant checkmate while playing black.

 This game took 38 moves as well, and the game was a Polish opening, which is an uncommon opening.

On the 8th move, black’s pawn made a double square move to d5, and white attacked it with pawn to c4 immediately, but black did not capture the pawn, which turned out to be an excellent move for black.

On the 14th move, black made some exchanges and eventually placed the black pawn on e4.

On the 36th move, the black Queen was able to check the white King, who will cause white to lose the game soon.

On the 38th move, the white made a double square move with f4, which means a chance for black to perform an en passant capture and checkmate by pawn exf3e.p checkmate!

You can follow the chess game using the notation below:

1. b4 e5 2. ♗b2 ♗xb4 3. ♗xe5 ♘f6 4. a3 ♗e7 5. e3 O-O 6. ♘f3 ♘c6 7. ♗b2 a6 8. d4 d5 9. c4 ♗e6 10. ♘bd2 h6 11. ♖c1 ♘a5 12. ♘e5 c6 13. c5 ♘e4 14. ♘xe4 dxe4 15. ♖c3 b5 16. ♕c2 ♗d5 17. ♗e2 ♕e8 18. ♗h5 g6 19. ♗g4 ♔g7 20. ♘d7 f5 21. ♘xf8 fxg4 22. ♘xg6 ♕xg6 23. g3 ♘b7 24. h3 ♖f8 25. h4 h5 26. ♖h2 a5 27. a4 b4 28. ♖b3 ♕e6 29. ♕d2 ♔g6 30. ♖xb4 axb4 31. ♕xb4 ♕c8 32. ♔e2 ♗d8 33. ♖h1 ♗a5 34. ♕a3 ♕f5 35. ♖h2 ♕f3+ 36. ♔f1 ♕d1+ 37. ♔g2 ♕e1 38. f4 exf3# [0-1]

Wrapping Up

Those are some of the top questions about en passant; the meaning and rules about en passant are easy to understand.

What makes this post exciting is the examples of en passant where you can see the actual game that implemented this special move well.

You can also say that the player was just lucky, but not everyone can see the opportunity of an en passant checkmate during a game.

By the way, do not be confused with the term passed pawn; it's a different term, and it doesn’t even capture any piece.

You can also do a combination of the move like en passant capture at the same time pawn promotion is allowed.

Lastly, en passant does not allow you to capture chess pieces backward!

I hope you were able to gain some useful information about en passant!

Gary Flores

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 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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