The Pawn

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The pawn seems, to the beginner, to be rather insignificant. After all, it is worth only 1 point, the least of any of the other chessmen. However, pawns can be very important as you will come to appreciate.

At the beginning of the game each side has 8 pawns. Except on its first move, a pawn may only move one square forward at a time. Pawns can never move backwards. When a pawn makes its very first move it has a choice; it can either move one square or two. However, it moves one square in all following moves.

Chess board

If the square immediately in front of the pawn contains another piece then the pawn is unable to move forward. It is blocked. None of the pawns in this diagram can move.

Blocked pawns

Although a pawn moves straight forward it captures by talking one square diagonally forward. In the diagram White can capture either the Rook or the Knight. She does this by removing the captured piece from the board and replacing it with the pawn.

Chess board

This diagram shows the position after the pawn has captured the Rook.

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When a pawn reaches the other end of the board it can be changed for any other piece of its own colour, except the King. This is called promotion. Therefore, a pawn can be promoted to a Queen, a Rook, a Bishop or a Knight. Normally a pawn is promoted to a Queen but sometimes there may be a good reason to promote a pawn to another piece instead. If there is not a spare Queen, a Rook turned upside down (or any other suitable object) is place on the board to represent a Queen . A pawn is promoted by removing the pawn from the board and placing the chosen piece on the promotion square.