The Pawn Chess Piece ... each game begins with sixteen (16) of them on the board - 8 White; 8 Black.
They have a relative value score of 1, so are your lowest-value pieces on the board.
The relative weighting sees it ranked below the Knights (3); the Bishops (3); the Rooks (5); the Queen (9) and King (invaluable - more about this in the King Chess Piece article).
Significantly, Pawns can ONLY MOVE FORWARD; there is no retreat, unlike there is for the other pieces on the board.
Take a look at the image below (screenshot from Chess Titans game), which shows White's P.awn - on the gold highlighted square - about to move:
In the above image, the legal moves are the blue-highlighted squares ...
Legal ONLY on the Pawn's first move from it's starting position on the board, you may choose to advance either one OR two squares forward ... and this rule is the same for all subsequent P.awns that are still waiting on their front-line.
After that first move - whether you've advanced one or two squares - the only legal move for position is one-square forward per turn.
Think of the first move as like when the common soldiers - the P.awns - stood ready to charge into battle:
- Pawn Promotion -
The proverbial "Ace up the sleeve" belongs exclusively to the P.awn chess piece ...
Take a look at this image:
You can see White's P.awn - on the gold-highlighted square - is one move away from the enemy's back row ...
The purple-highlighted square, courtesy of Chess Titan's programmers, tells you that something special will happen by moving forward to this square ...
And it's not exclusive to that one square - if you get any of your Pawns to any of your opponent's back-row squares, you get the option of Pawn Promotion ...
The animated image, below, shows what's in store by moving to that purple-highlighted square:
On a computer-based Chess simulation/game*, there'll be some sort of dialogue box that pops up, inviting you to choose any one of four major pieces that you exchange for your P.awn.
* If you're playing with a proper chess set ... usually, you might not have purchased extra, major pieces.
The choice you get is to exchange your P.awn for either another:
In most cases - but not always - a player who promotes a P.awn will likely exchange it for a Queen ...
Oh, and it can get really exciting if you get more than one of your P.awns to the back row - each of those P.awns that make it, can be turned into an extra higher-value piece ... Imagine having 3-4 Queens to press for victory in the endgame! It can happen.
- Usual Method -
Usually, Pawns can only capture if the enemy is diagonally, one square ahead, to either the left or right ... In this scenario, White's P.awn can capture Black's P.awn (on the red-highlighted square).
As the image, above, showed: there is no obligation to capture. In that scenario, the blue-highlighted square shows the other option available to White's P.awn, which would result in a move for position only.
Eagle-eyed readers will have noted "Usually" was used two paragraphs ago, when referring to how the P.awn chess piece can capture enemy personnel ...
For the most part, Pawns cannot capture a piece that's either one square directly infront, or to its left or right.
However, a unique move-to-capture arises in the form of En Passant, which we'll look at next ...
- En Passant -
Pronounced - if you pardon my French - "On-Pah-Sawhn", En Passant takes place when one P.awn advances TWO squares to sit on a square immediately to the left or right or an opponent's P.awn ...
Here, take a look at this animated image:
It's the first of two parts, showing how En Passant can happen ...
In this scenario, White's P.awn has advanced into Black's half of the board and now it's Black's turn to move.
Black has decided on moving the P.awn - on the gold-highlighted square ... The blue-highlighted squares show the legal moves for Black's P.awn ...
Through not knowing the Rule of En Passant, Black sees that his P.awn will be captured by White's P.awn, if he only moves one square forward.
So, instead, Black tries to move TWO squares, to the middle-ground, taking him to the immediate left of White's P.awn ...
Black assumes he's both:
To show Black the error of his ways, the following animated image shows the second part - the bit where En Passant takes place ...
It's White's turn to move:
You can see that, along with a blue-highlighted square - showing the standard, legal move for this White Pawn - there is also a Purple-highlighted square, showing this special move ...
In the scenario, you see White opts to move - diagonally - to the the purple-highlighted square, to complete this unique capture move of the Pawn and complete what you now know is called En Passant.
There are a number of Weaknesses suffered by the Pawn ...
One weakness is that, after the opening two-square move has been taken, or declined in favour of an opening one-square move, the P.awn is restricted to one-square move per turn, for the remainder of the game ...
A secondary weakness is the Pawn CANNOT move backwards, in any direction ... This can leave it vulnerable to capture; or it could get in the way of one of your major piece's attempts to threaten capture or to gain positional advantage.
A third weakness is a Pawn can only move diagonally when capturing ... If there happens to be another piece infront - be it your own or enemy, it becomes stuck on its square UNTIL the path ahead is cleared.
A fourth weakness is as a result of the second and third weaknesses combined ... because it cannot move OR capture backwards, even if it has the back-up of, say, another Pawn behind it, all the enemy has to do is capture that rear-supporting Pawn - this isolates that forward Pawn and chances are it too will be captured, in short order.
Return to the Beginners Chess Guide:
Individual Chess Pieces page; About The Pawn Chess Piece