En Passant Rule – This special pawn move in chess doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, it can completely shift the dynamics of the match. Let’s dive into the details to see how it works.
What is an attacked square in chess? You’ll need to know the answer to better understand the maneuver. As a rule, it’s any cell that a piece can go to in the next move. If there is a soldier from an opposing army, it’s in danger. But with pawns, it’s a special area directly connected with chess en passe strike.
Some circumstances allow pawns to use their superpower and change the way they hit their opponents. These soldiers still attack one square diagonally. But there will be no enemies standing there! And someone will have to leave the board anyway…
It all may sound confusing. How does en passant work? We’ll explain what it is all about. You can relax: we don’t offer a boring theory. The article is supported by vivid examples with pictures for better understanding.
Defined: Pawn And Its Hidden Power
A pawn is the most recognizable piece on the board. Unlike other participants, it’s numerous. Each player is given 8 of them at the beginning of the match. Located on the second and seventh horizontal lines in a row, they’re the weakest, too.
If you’ve studied some basic rules, then you know how limited they are in their movement. Going only forward 1 cell per time, they can’t turn back. Their attack is similar: one square diagonally.
However, they’re granted chess special moves that are launched when certain conditions are met. If we talk about en passant, it’s exactly an example of this superpower.
When does it happen? The opposing pawn moved past or passed the attacked square. It landed beside your soldier, thinking it was safe there. Just place your warrior diagonally in the empty cell. It’s a devious move: the taking of the enemy’s piece is sometimes unexpected to your opponent!
The maneuver is firmly tied to the place it’s happening. It’s possible only if you fulfill certain conditions, connected with the following elements:
- Demarcation line. The attacking pawn must cross it. It’s a border dividing the battlefield into 2 equal parts. White must stand on the 5th rank, while Black – on the 4th one
- The position of the “victim”. The attacked pawn must start its movement from the second or seventh horizontal line. It depends on the color of your pieces. Actually, it’s the first move of this soldier in the entire match
- The landing cell of the “victim”. Your opponent must do a long jump. The pawn flies over the attacked square and ends up standing to your right or left
If these conditions are fulfilled, you can eat your enemy! Nothing stops you from doing it. Push your soldier to the cell jumped over by the opponent. It may seem that you fight with thin air. But in reality, you hit the enemy’s pawn!
Is en passant forced by rules? No, it’s just a move. If you don’t want to go for it, just don’t!
There are situations when it’s dangerous for your side to perform the trick. In this case, it should be avoided. Besides, if you see a more effective path for your army, ignore this rare opportunity.
Explaining of the En Passant move with Examples
We agree that it’s hard to understand all the nuances without visualization. Below you’ll find pictures of a virtual board to illustrate how to en passant:
It’s a pure pawn-based confrontation. Other pieces have been removed for better clarity. Let’s check if the conditions mentioned above are fulfilled:
- Demarcation line: yes, the white pawn crosses it (a4-a5)
- The position of the attacked: yes, it stands on the cell b7
- The long jump of the “victim”: yes, it goes 2 squares forward
It seems that the opponent has forgotten about the pawn passant in chess rules. Your soldier seems to be blocked on a5. So your enemy moved (or passed) past the attacked square. Such a decision allows you to go diagonally and capture this piece!
And now let’s watch how to make a beautiful en passant checkmate:
The left picture features a black king in check by a light-square bishop g2. There is only one possible move: to cover it with a pawn d7-d5. It shields the king from danger. But White wins anyway. Use your pawn e5-d6. Destroy the opponent’s soldier and checkmate the king with a bishop!
But this pawn special move is not always that successful. Let’s analyze the situation when en passant is a fatal mistake!
Black sends its d7-piece to d5, and White misses the obvious trap. It captures the pawn passing its soldier in an en passant style.
It frees the way for an opposing a7-bishop: it dashes to e3. It’s a check to your c1-king, so you must pull it aside. But there is nothing you can do to save your rook h6.
So, what do we have? You’ve taken a pawn and given your valuable piece for that! It’s not beneficial.
We recommend reading our articles:
Why En Passant Rule Exists
Now you’re fully prepared to use the maneuver in action. But there are many other rules and tricks to learn. If you’re patient enough, you’ll master them all (imagine a moving forward meme here for inspiration).
But you’ll need to distract yourself from chess sometimes to give your brain some rest. Do it with another mental exercise! It can be anything. For example, a Passover crossword.
FAQ about the En Passant Rule