En Passant

Since this is my first chess post, I thought I would start with a relatively simple chess term. Many people find en passant confusing, but it’s really quite simple. I hope this clears up some of your confusion.

En passant is a French phrase that means “in passing.” In chess, it only applies to pawns, and only in certain, special conditions. It doesn’t happen often, but it is important to be aware when it can happen, because a well-timed en passant can alter a game’s outcome.

Let’s begin. Imagine this is the position:

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

Black to Move

Black moves his pawn on B7 to B5. Normally, black’s pawn is safe from capture by the white pawn. But, on the next turn, and the next turn only, white may move his pawn to B6, capturing the black pawn in the process.

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

It is as if the black pawn moved forward only one square, which of course would mean that the white pawn could capture it normally. Keep in mind, white can only en passant on the 5th rank for white, and black on the 4th. In addition, it only happens the very next move after the pawn has moved forward two spaces, and only if the pawns are next to each other. En Passant only happens with pawns, not any other piece. I see many chess players try to en passant a knight or a bishop. Don’t be that person!

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