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En passant

En passant is a special pawn capture move in chess that allows a pawn to capture an opponent’s pawn immediately after it moves two squares forward from its starting position, bypassing the square directly next to the capturing pawn.

Similar terms: Pawn, capture, promotion, castling, check, checkmate, stalemate, pawn structure, double pawn, pawn island

So, what exactly is En passant?

En passant (French for “in passing”) is a move in which a pawn captures an adjacent enemy pawn that has moved two squares forward from its original position, but only on the move immediately following this two-square advance.

The capturing pawn moves to the square over which the enemy pawn has just passed.

History and Origin of En passant

The rule of en passant was introduced in the 15th century when the rules of chess were modified to allow pawns to move two squares forward on their first move.

This change was intended to speed up the game, but it also created a loophole where pawns could bypass each other’s zones of control. En-passant was introduced to address this loophole.

Why is En passant important?

En-passant is crucial as it prevents a pawn from using the two-square initial advance to avoid capture by an opposing pawn.

This rule helps maintain tension in the pawn structure and preserves the integrity of the game’s strategic elements.

Examples of En passant

Consider the figure below. Let’s assume that the white pawn is at e5. If black moves the f-pawn to f5, the white pawn can capture it en passant on f6.

After the move, the white pawn occupies the f6 square, and the black pawn is removed from the board.

How to En passant

  1. Position your pawn: Your pawn should be adjacent to the square through which an enemy pawn passes.
  2. Opponent’s move: The opposing pawn must move forward two squares from its original position, ending adjacent to your pawn.
  3. Capture immediately: You must capture the pawn on the very next move; otherwise, the opportunity to do so expires.
  4. Capturing move: Move your pawn diagonally into the square passed over by the enemy pawn, removing the enemy pawn from the board.

Famous examples of En passant

One notable example occurred in the game between Bobby Fischer and Tigran Petrosian in their 1971 Candidates Match, where Fischer effectively used en passant to gain a positional advantage that contributed significantly to his victory in the game.

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