Can Pawns Move Backwards In Chess?: Understanding The Chess Pieces

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The pawn is the chessboard’s worker bee. It’s an eager soldier marching into battle, ready to establish a valiant front line against raiding invaders. In the hands of a novice, the death of a pawn may appear to be unimportant collateral damage in the midst of a war. The pawn’s reckless disdain for its own well-being, on the other hand, makes it a vicious part of a well-planned attack in the hands of a genuinely great player. Like Andre Philidor of the 18th century once said “The pawns are the soul of chess”. In this article, we’ll have a look at pawns, how they move, how they attack and then answer the important question ” Can Pawns Move Backwards In Chess? ” 

Check Out: All You Need To Know About Pawns In Chess

How Does A Pawn Attack?

A pawn can only move in one direction to attack a square within its range. The white pawn can attack the rook by moving to e4 in the diagram below.

Even if the rook is on the f5 square, the pawn can still move to e4 to attack the rook on the F5 square.

Here is another example- By moving to e4, the pawn can still attack the knight on f5.

If the knight is replaced with a bishop, king, or queen, the pawn will be unable to attack any of these pieces.

From the image above, none of the white pawns can attack Black’s pieces in a safe manner. This is because if any of white pawns move, black can easily capture with either the King, Bishop or Queen.

Pawns, most times are not enough to attack alone and will almost always collaborate with at least one other connected pawn to give backup.

The white pawns can boldly challenge the black queen here. Because the pawn is safeguarded after 1. e4, the black queen must back away from taking it. 

The knight is the one piece that the pawn enjoys attacking more than any other. We’ve seen how the knight is extremely vulnerable to other pieces’ attacks because it almost never attacks back immediately. This fact can be used by a pawn, sometimes to deadly effect.

White’s knight may believe it has the upper hand against the pawn. It’s just incorrect. 

Black attacks the knight with 1… e4! Now the knight has the option of punishing the pawn for its arrogance by assaulting it with 2 Nf2. The pawn, on the other hand, recognizes the knight’s weakness and continues pushing forward.

2… e3! 

Still enraged, the knight determines that the disrespectful pawn can be punished by threatening to capture it again by 3 Nd1. Only after the pawn slyly steps forward with 3… e2! does the knight realize, to its horror, that it will be powerless to stop the once-frail weakling from morphing into an uncontrollable monster when the pawn hits the e1-square and becomes a queen?

Can Pawns Move Backwards In Chess?

Pawns are the board’s weakest units. They can only move one square straight ahead at a time.

You can make use of the 2-move option if a pawn has never been moved (it’s still on its original starting square) — You have the choice of moving it 1 or 2 squares. 

However, once you’ve moved that pawn (1 or 2 squares), you can only advance it forward 1 square from then on and can’t move backward.

So can pawns move backwards in chess once they move forward? The simple answer is NO. Once they start moving forward, they continue that way.

Pawns can only capture on the diagonal; they can’t capture straight ahead. When a pawn reaches the board’s end, it must transform into a new piece. It can either transform to A Queen, Rook, Bishop, or Knight. Of course, the Queen is chosen by the vast majority of players.

In the image above, where can white pawns move to? 

First of all, we ask the important question – Looking at the white pawns on a2, c4 and g3, can the pawns move backwards in chess? The answer is NO.

From left to right, White’s a2 pawn can decide to either move one square or two squares as this is its first move. After moving, it advances forward all the way to the other end of the board in a bid to be promoted into a queen.

White’s c4-pawn can only move forward to the c5 square. However, if the pawn moves from c5 to c6, black’s pawn on d7 can easily capture it.The white pawn on g3 can’t move because it is obstructed by blacks’s pawn on g4.

Please keep in mind that pawns cannot move backward or diagonally. Pawns can only move in diagonal directions in order to capture other pieces. Any other piece, excluding the king, can be captured by pawns. If the pawn “captures” a king, that would be best referred to as checkmate.

2 Special Pawn Moves

Pawns also have two unique abilities. Let’s take a look at each one.

En Passant

En passant is when a pawn captures another pawn by moving sideways rather than diagonally. When the opponent piece makes its first move, this move may occur. The opponent pawn is placed immediately adjacent to the player’s pawn in this move. The player can then use the en passant move to capture the opponent pawn in the next move.

This move can be used once per piece and solely for capturing pawns. If the player does not execute the en passant manoeuvre in the next move after the opposing piece’s move, they will not be able to do so for that piece in the future.

Pawn Promotion

This move has been around since the Shatranj days. It consists of a pawn reaching the opponent’s first rank at the end of the board. The pawn can then be changed into any other piece on the board. 

Except for the king, pawns can be transformed into whatever piece the player wants. Also, if the player still retains their original queen, a pawn can still be promoted to another queen. In the endgame phase of the game, pawn promotion is very prevalent. So can pawns move backwards in chess? The answer is No.

Check Out: Improve Your Middlegame: 7 Key Strategies Every Chess Player Must Know

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