Pawn moves in chess – promotion, en passant and more

pawn moves in chess

When I was learning chess, I did not pay attention to pawns importance, and I saw them as weak and not useful. But when I started getting defeated by opponents who know how to use pawns for their advantage, I realized pawns are very powerful, contrary to their value, and I should learn how to use them properly in chess games.

In this article, we will learn pawn moves in chess, get an idea about pawn promotion, en passant and other important use of pawns in chess.

What are pawns in chess?

Pawns are considered soldiers or infantries in chess, and they are one of the most important parts of the chess game. If you are not familiar with pawns in chess, they are the most number of the same pieces on the board. They also represent infantry soldiers in chess because they are located in front of the chess pieces (see image below).

chess pawn

Also read chess board setup for pawns and other chess pieces.

The pawns in chess are often referred to as “the soul of chess.” It’s because pawns are revered chess pieces in the game of chess. This small and seemingly insignificant piece of the chessboard is the ultimate in sacrifices, and they are used as a sacrifice in order to capture other chess pieces.

If you are asking what pawns can do in chess? There are many things pawns can do in chess; they can give checks, checkmates, get promoted, and perform special moves. You can learn more interesting facts about pawns in the next sections of this article.

How many pawns in chess?

Do you want to know how many pawns in a chess set? There are 16 pawns included in a chess set, 8 pawns for each players. There are “eight white pawns” and “eight black pawns” at the start of every game of chess. The white pawn pieces will be placed on a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2 and the black pawn pieces are located on a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7, total of 16 pawn pieces.

Next section will talk about pawn moves in chess.

Pawn moves in chess

What moves can a pawn make in chess? The most basic move of a pawn is one square forward, and two squares forward during its starting position. The pawn cannot move forward if the square is blocked by the same color pieces or cannot capture an enemy piece moving forward.

How can a pawn move forward in chess?

They can move one spaces or 2 spaces forward in chess. Below are images of how pawn in chess moves. 

pawn moves one space forward

Pawn moves on chess one square forward from its starting position and one square forward throughout the rest of the game.

pawn moves two spaces forward

Pawn in chess moving two squares forward from its starting position only then one square forward throughout the game. Every pawn from its starting position can move 2 spaces.

Is it possible to move your pawns backward? Can pawn move backward?

The pawns cannot or never move backward. That is why the first thing you need to remember is that pawns can only move forward. As pawns being represented as infantry soldiers, they are the only chess pieces that cannot move backward, the same representation in the war field – soldiers are expected to move forward and not retreat or move backward.

If someone asks you if a pawn can move backward in chess – you now know the answer.

How about if someone asks you if a pawn can move diagonally?

Yes, pawns can move diagonally or sideways, but the right question is when can a pawn move diagonally or move sideways? Pawns can only move sideways when they are capturing or attacking another enemy chess piece. They do not move forward diagonally, but instead, they capture opponents diagonally.

We’ll talk about pawn attacks in the next section.

How do pawns attack?

How do pawns attack or capture in chess? Since pawns can only move forward directly, they can also attack diagonally in one move (see image below).

pawn attacks

The pawns can take or capture pieces on its first move diagonally. Yes, they can kill or attack on its first move (see image below), but pawns cannot take a king or kill a king in chess.

pawn capture bishop

You may also be interested to learn more about can a pawn kill a king?

Also read king moves in chess where you will learn if king can kill in chess too.

What other moves can a pawn make in chess?

Pawns have other chess moves that you need to learn; they are referred to as special moves in chess. These special moves that the pawn can do make them pretty interesting because there are chess pawn rules that you need first to understand.

Here are pawn’s special moves in chess;

  • Pawn promotion
  • En Passant
  • Pass Pawn

Next section you will learn about chess rules for each pawn special moves.

Chess rules pawn promotion

So, what happens in chess when a pawn gets to the other side? The rule says that if any of your pawns reaches the opposite side or the other side of the board – the player can promote the pawn to another chess piece of the same colour except the king.

That is the basic chess rule when a pawn reaches the other end of the chessboard.

Also read an in depth guide to pawn promotion.

You might also be interested to learn about queen moves in chess.

Chess rules pawn en passant moves

En passant is a special chess move that involves a pawn capturing an opponent’s pawn diagonally in the same file.  This type of pawn move can only be played when the opponent’s pawn has just moved two squares (see image below).

pawn en passant move

The image above shows the white pawn takes the black pawn en passant.

I recommend you read en passant in chess everything you need to know.

Chess rules pass pawn move

So, what is a pass pawn in chess? A passed pawn or pass pawn in chess is a pawn that is unstoppable because there are no opposing chess pieces to stop it from reaching the other end of the board. You can think of a passed pawn in chess as pawns that can no longer be blocked or captured by your opponent.

Pass pawn move can be considered a special move because for your pawn to achieve this, you already have seen this inside your head, or you had already calculated this move before it ever happened.

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoyed learning about pawn moves in chess with this article. There are still a lot of interesting pawn rules and popular myths that you can find out here

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Don’t forget to check out our chessdelights resources and get this chess ebook to improve your end game from one of the world chess champions.

Gary Flores

Hi there! I'm a dad with kids who loves to learn how to play chess by learning online - also, this is my way of refreshing my knowledge about this game of tactics & strategy. I created chessdelights.com to inspire people who are also learning, re-learning or teaching their kids the game of chess.

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