En Passant in Chess – When you think of any chess rule, most of them are clear and simple. However, there is an exceptional one that seems to constantly cause trouble for chess beginners. This special move involves the “pawn takes pawn” scheme. It’s known as the en passant rule in chess.
We’ll guide you through all the intricacies of it. You will resolve the dilemma “What is en passant in chess?”. Also, there’s an explanation here why you should learn it and how to apply it.
The En Passant meaning
In order to understand the meaning, you need to define passe. It means “pass” in French.
Consequently, en plus pass in a gerund turns into en passant. The whole phrase translates as “in passing” which refers to the way it works.
The essence of the move
Before we get into the details, let’s think of one other thing.
What does capturing mean? It’s a way to remove the opponent’s piece by attacking it. It happens after landing on the square where the rival put his unit.
As for the pawn rules in chess, it uses diagonals to accomplish a capturing move. However, in times of peace, this unit only utilizes a straight line in front. Besides, during the first move, it is allowed to travel two spaces. While for the rest of the game, it can use just one.
We’ve refreshed our memory on how to move a pawn in chess. So it’s time to proceed to the special rule. Whenever you see the rival’s pawn stepping two squares, consider applying it. But also, you should have your own pawn standing beside it. Then you can capture it, despite being located on the same rank.
In order to execute it, move diagonally, as if the victim stepped one square only. As a result, your chess piece finishes in the space behind the opponent’s unit. And the latter one should be removed from the board. In fact, you bypass a pawn with your own to defeat it.
The rules of En Passant
Why does this rule refer to the special chess moves for pawns? Because you cannot use it at any time. A whole set of requirements needs to be met. Here they are:
- The passed pawn should make a two-space jump as its first move. If it advanced one space and one more on the next turn, it doesn’t fit.
- When passing a pawn, start it from the adjacent space on the same rank. And your pawn should already be placed there before the rival’s move.
- You only have one opportunity to accomplish this special move with each particular pawn. And it’s the next turn after it moved. If you do other moves with different pieces, the chance is lost. It cannot be postponed until the next turn, even if the pawns’ positions don’t change.
The story of this special capture dates back to the 15th century. At that time, the chess rules and pawn rights, in particular, were about to be established.
Can pawns attack backwards? Or else, can pawns move sideways? No, none of these maneuvers are available to them. So their moving capacity seemed very limited. To diversify the game, chess players allowed the unit to travel two spaces when starting. It also helped speed up the process of playing a little bit.
This innovation was the reason why players upgraded a pawn and en passant appeared. It was a response. The decision served to balance out the chances for both sides. A pawn couldn’t safely use the two-square privilege to pass the neighboring enemy pawn. It risked being taken.
This way, there were no uncapturable positions for this playing unit. And it looks quite fair.
When should you use the En Passant chess move?
For beginners, a pawn passing another pawn and capturing it, as a result, looks impressive. So as soon as this rule is discovered, they try to use it at maximum. But it isn’t always the best decision to apply en passant. Everything depends on the particular position of one’s chessmen.
We’d recommend that you evaluate your entire situation on the chessboard before showing off.
Otherwise, you may overlook some really good moves and end up in a worse condition. This is especially frequent among chess novices. Besides, your pawn may be a part of a bigger strategy. In such a case, this move would ruin it. Remember: the coolest move is the one that leads you to victory.
On the other hand, sometimes special pawns’ moves in chess quickly bring an advantage. When used correctly and with the right timing, en passant can drastically change things. For example, you intend to promote your pawn. This special move can be a great opportunity to advance the unit towards its goal.
Other than that, it’s a helpful playing tool to have in your repertoire. And it’s important to be aware of it. However, oftentimes you’ll use this knowledge to prevent capturing your own chess piece. This point is also worth noting. In the endgame, each move has even more serious consequences, than at earlier stages. Therefore, players must be especially careful about their gaming behavior.
A short example of the move
Let’s say, Black decides to move the c-pawn twice from its initial place. Eventually, it reaches c4. Then White advances the d-pawn two spaces at once to land on d4. Now, Black gets a rare opportunity to capture the rival’s unit en passant. The player should relocate the pawn to d3. And it can be executed on this turn exclusively.
Several points to reiterate:
- There is a general rule concerning this type of capturing. It can only occur on the 4th rank when done by Black. So respectively, the 5th rank is the position for White. It’s because a pawn has to be two squares away from its starting location.
- Again, the move can only be legally played the turn the two-space jump is executed. If it’s not done on that turn, you lose the right to perform it. Now you should wait for another opportunity on a different file.
Is the en passant rule in chess ever used?
Just as other pawn regulations in chess, en passant is utilized at all levels. For example, if a player sees it as an optimal move or finds it necessary.
Obviously, the rule is not very common, and you don’t witness it in every game. The reason for that is that there is a set of specific requirements for this.
In any case, it makes an appearance now and then. And this is an important chess rule every player should know. Maybe an example with chess stars would inspire you more.
By means of this special capture, Magnus fixed several points at once. He removed a threat to another chess unit of his.
Besides, the move opened the file for his rook, allowing excellent control over the flank. This confirms the fact that even not very common rules should be learned.
We recommend reading our articles:
- Getting to Know the Special Pawn Move in Chess
- Chess for Beginners: How to Play
- Can a Pawn Take a King
- Chess pawn promotion
Checkmate by En passant
There are two unusual rules involving pawns in chess and en passant is rare. Apart from not being frequently used, it also brings up much confusion among beginners. However, now that you’ve finished reading, it probably doesn’t seem so vague and unclear anymore.
This article was made to provide a full understanding of the rule. We explained the details and gave you the reasons to learn it. The more you play it, the easier it becomes to notice the upcoming en passant.
Over time, you may find yourself playing it naturally and at the right moment. Moving pawns in chess isn’t just an automatic process. You need to consider the environment and evaluate all the possible options. Just like with any skill, it takes endurance, time, and a lot of practice. Good luck!
FAQ About the En Passant in Chess
- Firstly, you have your pawn 1 square deep into the rival’s half of the board.
- Secondly, the opposite pawn makes a two-space jump from the initial position landing beside yours.
- Thirdly, the capture occurs as soon as the opportunity comes. You perform it on that turn only and don’t postpone it to the next turn.