Special Pawns!

Special Pawns!


Wait, what’s this? Another endgame? But, I keep taking away big pieces? That’s right! We’ve learned the “King and Queen Mate”. We’ve learned the “Rook Roller Mate”. But would you believe you could checkmate with just a pawn? In some ways at the end of the game a pawn is even better than a bishop or a knight. Because the pawn has a special rule called “Promotion”. Let’s see what that looks like! Let’s give White the next turn and that one little pawn is gonna race to the other side of the chessboard. Now, Black’s king might run after it but we advance our pawn again. Black’s king runs after it but he’s too late! When the pawn reaches the other side of the chessboard we’re allowed to turn that pawn into a different chess piece! The reason we have this rule, well, besides the fact that it makes the game a lot more exciting, is because since a pawn can’t move backward. If it didn’t turn into something it would just sit there, kind of like in checkers. This might be the only way that chess and checkers are alike… When something gets to the other side, in checkers, we say, “king me!” But, you know in chess, we don’t say “king me”, in fact, it’s the only piece you’re not allowed to turn into. You can turn into a knight, a bishop, a rook, or a queen! You can’t stay like a pawn, and you can’t turn into a second king. That would just be crazy! Now even though you’re allowed to get a queen, a rook a bishop, or a knight you pretty much always want a queen! There are very few exceptions to that. Let’s put the pawn on the other side, and look what the computer’s doing! It’s giving me the option, and luckily for me, it’s putting the queen at the top because it knows I probably want a queen. When we have the king on the chessboard, do I need to explain further how to do the checkmate? I hope not! Because, you’ve already passed the lesson that has the “King and… Queen Checkmate” Remember all that stuff where the queen was “a knight’s jump away”? She made a fence, she played some “Simon Says”, then she got the help of the white king? If not, you might want to jog back there and refresh your memory! When a pawn turns into a new piece… usually a queen, we call it “Promotion”. Sometimes, we also call it “Queening the Pawn” because we pretty much always want a queen. Go ahead and ask your parents when you get done with the video if they’ve ever had a “promotion”. I bet they have and it’s a pretty joyous occasion. It probably means they are getting more money at work! Well, what about you? Have you ever had a promotion? Sure! ChessKids get promotions! Usually, once every August! What happens in August? Well, that’s when most ChessKids go back to school! Whatever grade you were in last year you got a “promotion” this year. Since ChessKids are pretty smart I’m betting you did good work and your teacher advanced you to the next grade. Now, it’s time to put some more pawns on the board and learn one last rule with the pawns. This is actually the last major change to the rules of chess. And it still occurred four hundred years ago! Amazing! This rule is called “En Passant” and it’s time for your French foreign language lesson! En Passant means “in passing”. Let’s talk about why this rule was invented. A long time ago in chess you could only move pawns one square. Even on their first turn! But the people that changed the rules of chess thought it’d be much more exciting for a pawn to go two squares. Take a look at this pawn down here on b2. Under the old rules of chess if you wanted to move this pawn you had to go one square and give Black the chance to capture you. Not something you want to have happen. But, we know when a pawn is on the “home base” it’s allowed to move two squares. Well, when this pawn goes two squares the people that invented chess said “that’s not fair!” This pawn got all the way down the board three squares from it’s starting line and it’s never gonna have a chance to capture the white pawn. So we have this rule “En Passant”. Here’s what is says… “When a pawn is on home base and it moves two squares forward one-two. If an enemy pawn is directly beside it not in front of it, beside it, the enemy pawn can travel one square diagonal to a blank square and when I release this black pawn you’ll see the white pawn on b4 magically disappear! Look at that! Amazing right? It almost looks like I’m cheating, this is a very special rule. Takes a lot of practice to master en passant! Let’s take a look at it one more time. This pawn is on home base. It traveled two squares and is directly beside the black pawn. The black pawn goes diagonal one square down the board and lifts the white one up off the board. Notice, this looks exactly the same as if the pawn had moved one square and Black had captured it. It’s the exact same position. Couple things about “En Passant”… Number One! You don’t have to pronounce it to use it, ok! Number Two! When you capture en passant it’s only with pawn against pawn. Nothing else is involved. Number Three! If the pawn travels two squares and you want to capture en passant you have to do it on the very next turn, you can’t wait. If Black moves his king and then White moves his king, watch what happens when I try to capture en passant! The computer says, “No way!” “You are not allowed to do that!” So, capturing en passant must be done on the very next turn. Number Four! When you capture en passant it’s only possible if the pawn has just moved two squares. Take a look at this pawn on g3. Is this pawn on the home base? No, it’s not. So, our en passant rule does not apply! If we advance this pawn one square forward, even though this black pawn is directly beside it, I’m not allowed to go diagonal and capture because this pawn here on g4, it took two turns to get there, not one. That’s an important difference! So, it’s only when a pawn is on home base, travels two squares forward, and you have a pawn directly beside it. “En Passant” is a super important rule to know! If you don’t remember en passant, when this pawn back here travels to b4, you’re not going to be able to stop that pawn from getting a promotion in a couple of turns unless you remember about “En Passant”. Really important! Let’s do a quick test to see what you’ve learned. White’s move! If White’s pawn on e2 travels one-two, can Black’s pawn on f4 capture en passant? Well, yes it can! Because White’s pawn just traveled two squares and is right beside you! We travel one square diagonal, the white pawn leaves the chessboard. Ok! We’ve already talked about this pawn not being able to be captured en passant if it advances. Let’s go ahead and put it there anyway. Let’s have Black now travel two squares, one-two. Can White capture Black’s pawn en passant? Well, yeah! I believe we can! We go one square diagonal and the black pawn is lifted up off the chessboard. A quick warning about en passant! If you’re playing a beginner or somebody who has not watched these videos, they may not believe you, you might want to put this video in front of them and show them all about en passant! You’re not the one cheating, it’s just that they’ve never heard of the rule! So, it’s time for YOU to play the role of “chess teacher”! “Promotion” and “En Passant”, the two most important pawn rules… Don’t forget them!

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