En passant

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This article is about the chess move 'en passant'. For other uses, see En passant (disambiguation).
en passant

En passant (from French: in passing) is a move in chess.[1] It is a special pawn capture, that can only occur immediately after a pawn moves two ranks forward from its starting position, and an enemy pawn could have captured it had the pawn moved only one square forward. The opponent captures the just-moved pawn "as it passes" through the first square. The resulting position is the same as if the pawn had moved only one square forward and the enemy pawn had captured it normally.

The en passant capture must be made at the very next turn, or the right to do so is lost.[2] It is the only occasion in chess in which a piece is captured but is not replaced on its square by the capturing piece. Like any other move, if an en passant capture is the only legal move available, it must be made. En passant capture is a common theme in chess compositions.

The en passant capture rule was added in the 15th century when the rule that gave pawns an initial double-step move was introduced. It prevents a pawn from using the two-square advance to pass an adjacent enemy pawn without the risk of being captured.


The rule[edit]

A pawn on its fifth rank may capture an enemy pawn on an adjacent file that has moved two squares in a single move, as if the pawn had moved only one square. The conditions are:

  • the capturing pawn must be on its fifth rank;
  • the captured pawn must be on an adjacent file and must have just moved two squares in a single move (i.e. a double-step move);
  • the capture can only be made on the move immediately after the opposing pawn makes the double-step move; otherwise the right to capture it en passant is lost.
Example of en passant
Black to move
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
f7 black pawn
f6 black cross
e5 white pawn
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
The black pawn is on its initial square. If it moves to f6 (marked by ×), the white pawn could capture it.
White to move
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
f6 black cross
e5 white pawn
f5 black pawn
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Black moved his pawn forward two squares in a single move from f7 to f5, "passing" f6.
Black to move
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
f6 white pawn
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
White captures the pawn en passant, as if it had moved only one square to f6.

En passant is the only occasion in chess in which the capturing piece does not replace the captured piece on its square.[3]:463

Examples[edit]

Petrov's Defence
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black circle
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d6 black cross
d5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
d4 white queen
e4 black knight
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Black just played d7–d5. White's e5-pawn may capture en passant.

In the opening[edit]

There are some examples of en passant in chess openings. In this line from Petrov's Defence, White can capture the pawn on d5 en passant on his sixth move.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. d4 exd4
4. e5 Ne4
5. Qxd4 d5 (diagram)
6. exd6e.p.[4]:124–125

Another example occurs in the French Defense after 1.e4 e6 2.e5, a move once advocated by Wilhelm Steinitz.[5]:2 If Black responds with 2...d5, White can capture the pawn en passant with 3.exd6. Likewise, White can answer 2...f5 with 3.exf6e.p.

Steinitz vs. Fleissig, 1882
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d6 white pawn
e6 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
After 3.exd6e.p.

An example is from this game by Steinitz and Bernhard Fleissig.[6]

1. e4 e6
2. e5 d5
3. exd6e.p.

Unusual examples[edit]

Gundersen vs. Faul, 1928
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
f8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
e7 black knight
g7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
g6 black king
d5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
f5 black pawn
g5 white knight
b4 black bishop
d4 black knight
g4 white queen
h4 white pawn
c3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 12...f7–f5
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
f8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
e7 black knight
e6 white knight
h6 black king
d5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
f5 black pawn
g5 black pawn
h5 white pawn
b4 black bishop
d4 black knight
g4 white queen
c3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
After 14...g7–g5. White mates by taking the pawn en passant.

Black has just moved his pawn from f7 to f5 in this game between Gunnar Gundersen and Albert H. Faul.[7] White could capture the f-pawn en passant with his e-pawn, but instead played:

13. h5+ Kh6
14. Nxe6+

Note that the bishop on c1 effects the check, via a discovered check. 14...Kh7 results in 15.Qxg7#.

14... g5
15. hxg6e.p.#

The en passant capture and discovered checks place Black in checkmate (from White's rook on h1, even without help from White's bishop).

The largest known number of en passant captures in one game is three, shared by three games; in none of them were all three captures by the same player. The earliest known example is a 1980 game between Alexandru Sorin Segal and Karl Heinz Podzielny.[8]:98–99[9]

Kenneth S. Howard, 1938
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 white bishop
f8 black knight
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
b6 white knight
c6 black pawn
e6 black king
h6 white knight
c5 white pawn
e5 white pawn
c4 black pawn
e4 black pawn
h4 black pawn
g3 white bishop
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
a1 white queen
e1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
White mates in three

In chess compositions[edit]

En passant captures have often been used as a theme in chess compositions, as they "produce striking effects in the opening and closing of lines".[10]:106 In the 1938 composition by Kenneth S. Howard, the key move 1. d4 introduces the threat of 2.d5+ cxd5 3.Bxd5#. Black may capture the d4-pawn en passant in either of two ways:

  • The capture 1... exd3e.p. shifts the e4-pawn from the e- to the d-file, preventing an en passant capture after White plays 2. f4. To stop the threatened mate (3.f5#), Black may advance 2... f5, but this allows White to play 3. exf6e.p.# with checkmate due to the decisive opening of the e-file.
  • If Black plays 1... cxd3e.p., White exploits the newly opened a2–g8 diagonal with 2. Qa2+ d5 3. cxd6e.p.#

Historical context[edit]

Allowing the en passant capture, together with the introduction of the two-square first move for pawns, was one of the last major rule changes in European chess, and occurred between 1200 and 1600. Other relatively recent rule changes were castling, the unlimited range for queens and bishops[11]:14,16,57 Spanish master Ruy López de Segura gives the rule in his 1561 book Libro de la invencion liberal y arte del juego del axedrez.,[12]:108 and a change to the rules on pawn promotion. In most places the en passant rule was adopted at the same time as allowing the pawn to move two squares on its first move, but it was not universally accepted until the Italian rules were changed in 1880.[4]:124–125

The motivation for en passant was to prevent the newly added two-square first move for pawns from allowing a pawn to evade capture by an enemy pawn.[11]:16 Asian chess variants, because of their separation from European chess prior to that period, do not feature any of these moves.

Notation[edit]

In either algebraic or descriptive chess notation, en passant captures are sometimes denoted by "e.p." or similar, but such notation is not required. In algebraic notation, the move is written as if the captured pawn advanced only one square, for example, bxa3 (or bxa3e.p.) in this example.[12]:216

Threefold repetition and stalemate[edit]

The possibility of an en passant capture is relevant to claims of a draw by threefold repetition. Two positions whose pieces are all on the same squares, with the same player to move, are for this purpose considered different if there was an opportunity to make an en passant capture in the first position, and of course that opportunity no longer exists the second time the same configuration of pieces occurs.[13]:27

In his book on chess organization and rules, International Arbiter Kenneth Harkness wrote that it is frequently asked if an en passant capture must be made if it is the only legal move.[14]:49 This point was debated in the 19th century, with some arguing that the right to make an en passant capture is a "privilege" that one cannot be compelled to exercise. In his 1860 book Chess Praxis, Howard Staunton wrote that the en passant capture is mandatory in that instance. The rules of chess were amended to make this clear.[8] Today, it is settled that the player must make that move (or resign). The same is true if an en passant capture is the only move to get out of check.[14]:49

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Brace, Edward (1977), "en passant", An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess, Craftwell, ISBN 1-55521-394-4 
  2. ^ FIDE rules (En Passant is rule 3.7, part d)
  3. ^ Burgess, Graham (2000), The Mammoth Book of Chess (2nd ed.), Carroll & Graf, ISBN 978-0-7867-0725-6 
  4. ^ a b Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), "en passant", The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-866164-9 
  5. ^ Minev, Nikolay (1998), The French Defense 2: New and Forgotten Ideas, Thinkers' Press, ISBN 0-938650-92-0 
  6. ^ Steinitz vs. Fleissig, 1882
  7. ^ Gundersen vs. Faul. ChessGames.com. Retrieved on 2009-06-12.
  8. ^ a b Winter, Edward (1999), Stalemate, Chesshistory.com, retrieved 2009-06-12 
  9. ^ A. Segal vs. K. Podzielny, Dortmund 1980. Published by 365Chess.com. Retrieved on 2009-12-05.
  10. ^ Howard, Kenneth S. (1961), How to Solve Chess Problems (2nd ed.), Dover, ISBN 978-0-486-20748-3, retrieved 2009-11-30 
  11. ^ a b Davidson, Henry (1949), A Short History of Chess (1981 paperback ed.), McKay, ISBN 0-679-14550-8 
  12. ^ a b Golombek, Harry (1977), "en passant, capture", Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess, Crown Publishing, ISBN 0-517-53146-1 
  13. ^ Schiller, Eric (2003), Official Rules of Chess (2nd ed.), Cardoza, ISBN 978-1-58042-092-1 
  14. ^ a b Harkness, Kenneth (1967), Official Chess Handbook, McKay, ISBN 1-114-15703-1 

Bibliography

  • Just, Tim; Burg, Daniel B. (2003), U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess (5th ed.), McKay, ISBN 0-8129-3559-4 
  • Winter, Edward (2006), Chess Facts and Fables, McFarland, ISBN 0-7864-2310-2