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En passant

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Ajedrez captura al paso del peon.png

The en passant[a] capture is a move in chess. It allows a pawn to capture a horizontally adjacent enemy pawn that has just advanced two squares in one move.[2][3] The capturing pawn moves to the square that the advancing pawn passed over, as if the advancing pawn had advanced only one square. Such a capture is permitted only on the turn immediately after the two-square advance; it cannot be done on a later turn.[4] The en passant capture is the only capture in chess where the capturing piece does not replace the captured piece on its square.

The en passant capture was added in the 15th century alongside the introduction of the pawn's two-square move. It prevents a pawn from using the advance to bypass the risk of being captured by an adjacent enemy pawn.

Rules[edit]

Animation of an en passant capture

The conditions for a pawn to capture an enemy pawn en passant are as follows:

  • The enemy pawn advanced two squares on the previous move.
  • The capturing pawn attacks the square that the enemy pawn passed over.

If these conditions are met, the capturing pawn can move diagonally forward to the square that the enemy pawn passed, capturing the enemy pawn as if it had moved only one square. If the right to capture en passant is not exercised immediately, it is subsequently lost.

Example of capturing en passant
Black to move
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f7 black pawn
f6 black cross
e5 white pawn
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abcdefgh
The black pawn is on its initial square. If it moves to f6 (marked by ×), the white pawn can capture it.
White to move
abcdefgh
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f6 black cross
e5 white pawn
f5 black pawn
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Black moves their pawn forward two squares in a single move from f7 to f5, "passing" f6.
Black to move
abcdefgh
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f6 white pawn
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White captures the black pawn en passant, as if it had moved only one square to f6.

Only pawns may capture or be captured en passant; other pieces with the ability to capture diagonally—the king, queen, and bishop—cannot perform the capture.[5] The en passant capture is the only capturing move in chess such that the capturing piece is moved to a square not occupied by the captured piece.[6]: 463 

Notation[edit]

In algebraic notation, an en passant capture is notated using the capturing pawn's destination (not the captured pawn's location). In both algebraic and descriptive notation, the move may optionally be denoted by e.p. or similar. For example, in algebraic notation, bxa3 or bxa3 e.p. may be used to represent a black pawn on b4 capturing a white pawn on a4 en passant.[7]: 216 

Examples[edit]

abcdefgh
8
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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
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66
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abcdefgh
Black just played 5...d7-d5. White's e5-pawn can capture en passant.

Some chess openings feature the en passant capture. In the following line from Petrov's Defence, White captures the pawn on d5 en passant on move 6:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. d4 exd4
4. e5 Ne4
5. Qxd4 d5 (see diagram)
6. exd6 e.p.[8]: 124–125 
Steinitz vs. Fleissig, 1882
abcdefgh
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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
77
66
55
44
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abcdefgh
Position after 3.exd6 e.p.

An en passant capture can occur as early as move 3. For example, in the French Defence after 1.e4 e6 2.e5!?,[9]: 2  if Black responds with 2...d5, White can play 3.exd6 e.p. This occurred in the game SteinitzFleissig, Vienna 1882.[10]

An example of overlooking
capturing en passant
abcdefgh
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f8 white bishop
g7 black pawn
e5 white rook
f5 white pawn
h5 black king
e4 black pawn
f4 white king
h4 white knight
g3 white pawn
e2 black queen
f2 white pawn
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66
55
44
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abcdefgh
Black to move. Here 1...g5+? loses to an en passant checkmate.

In the diagram, the move 1...g5+ seems to checkmate White, but it is in fact a blunder. Black overlooks that White can counter this check with the en passant capture 2.fxg6 e.p.#, which cross-checks and checkmates Black. (1...Qxf2+ instead draws.)

Gundersen vs. Faul, 1928
abcdefgh
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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
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66
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Position after 12...f7-f5
abcdefgh
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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
77
66
55
44
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abcdefgh
After 14...g7-g5, White mates by capturing the pawn en passant.

In a game between Gunnar Gundersen and Albert H. Faul,[11] Black played 12...f7-f5. White could have captured the black f-pawn en passant with his e-pawn, but he instead played:

13. h5+ Kh6 14. Nxe6+

The bishop on c1 effects a discovered check. 14...Kh7 results in 15.Qxg7#.

14... g5 15. hxg6 e.p.#

The en passant capture and discovered checks place Black in checkmate (in fact, White's bishop is not necessary for the mate). An en passant capture is the only way a double check can be delivered without one of the checking pieces moving, as in this case.

The largest known number of en passant captures in one game is three. This record is 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.[12]: 98–99 [13]

History[edit]

The en passant capture, along with the pawn’s two-square first move, was introduced between the 13th and 16th centuries; it was one of the last major additions to European chess.[b] The rule was added to prevent a pawn from using the newly added two-square first move to evade capture by an enemy pawn.[14]: 16  In most places, the en passant capture was adopted at the same time as the pawn's two-square initial move, but it was not universally accepted until the Italian rules were changed in 1880.[8]: 124–125 

Chess variants[edit]

In most chess variants, pawns move as in standard chess, so the en passant capture is the same. Some larger variants allow pawns to make an initial move of more than two squares, such as the 16×16 game chess on a really big board, in which pawns may move up to six squares forward; such games usually allow an en passant capture on any square the pawn passes.

In some three-dimensional chess variants, such as millennium 3D chess or Alice chess, capturing en passant is allowed, though in the former case, the captured pawn's two-square move cannot have been purely vertical. In 5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel, capturing en passant is allowed in the spatial dimensions but not between universes or across time.

Some fairy chess pieces can capture en passant, such as the Berolina pawn.

The en passant capture does not exist in some chess variants, such as Dragonchess and Raumschach. Traditional Asian games of the chess family such as shogi, xiangqi, and janggi have no two-square pawn advance and therefore no en passant capture.

Draw by repetition and stalemate[edit]

In the context of threefold and fivefold repetition, two positions are considered different if the opportunity to perform a given en passant capture exists in one position but not the other.[15]: 27 

If capturing en passant is a player's only legal move, they must either perform it or end the game on their turn via normal means; the player is forbidden to "claim" a draw by stalemate, regardless of whether or not they are in check. In his book on chess organization and rules, International Arbiter Kenneth Harkness wrote that people frequently asked if this is the case.[16]: 49  Chess players debated this point in the 19th century, with some arguing that the right to capture en passant 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 such a position; the rules of chess were amended to make this clear.[12][16]: 49 

Chess problems[edit]

The en passant capture is often used as a theme in chess problems. According to Kenneth S. Howard, "En passant pawn captures frequently produce striking effects in the opening and closing of lines."[17]: 106  By retrograde analysis convention, a pawn may be captured en passant only if it can be proven to have advanced two squares on the previous move.

Kenneth S. Howard, 1938
abcdefgh
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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
77
66
55
44
33
22
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abcdefgh
White to play and mate in three

In the diagrammed 1938 composition by Howard, the key 1. d4! introduces the threat of 2.d5+ cxd5 3.Bxd5#. Black can capture the d4-pawn en passant in either of two ways:

  • The capture 1... exd3 e.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 can advance 2...f5, but this allows White to play 3.exf6 e.p.# due to the decisive opening of the e-file.
  • If Black plays 1... cxd3 e.p., White exploits the newly opened a2–g8 diagonal with 2.Qa2+ d5 3.cxd6 e.p.#
O. Sommerfeldt, 1902
abcdefgh
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b7 black bishop
f7 black queen
a6 white bishop
g5 black pawn
b4 white rook
e4 black pawn
f4 black king
g4 white pawn
h4 black pawn
b3 black pawn
h3 white pawn
b2 white queen
d2 white pawn
g2 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
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abcdefgh
White to play and mate in two

The diagrammed 1902 composition by Sommerfeldt[18] shows the effect of pins on en passant captures.


The key

 1. d4!

threatens 2.Qf2#. The moves of the black e-pawn are restricted in an unusual manner. The en passant capture 1...exd3 e.p.+ is illegal (it exposes Black’s king to check), but

 1... e3+

is legal. This, however, removes the black king's access to e3, allowing

 2. d5#

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ French: [ɑ̃ paˈsɑ̃], lit. in passing
  2. ^ Other relatively recent rule changes include the addition of castling, alterations to the abilities of the queen and bishop[14]: 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[7]: 108 ), and alterations to promotion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "FIDE Laws of Chess taking effect from 1 January 2018". FIDE. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  2. ^ Article 3.7.4.1 in the FIDE Laws of Chess[1]
  3. ^ Brace, Edward (1977), "en passant", An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess, Secaucus, N.J: Craftwell, ISBN 1-55521-394-4
  4. ^ Article 3.7.4.2 in FIDE Laws of Chess[1]
  5. ^ Whyld, Kenneth (1993). Learn Chess in a Weekend. Knopf/DK. p. 39. ISBN 9780679422297.
  6. ^ Burgess, Graham (2000), The Mammoth Book of Chess (2nd ed.), New York: Carroll & Graf, ISBN 978-0-7867-0725-6
  7. ^ a b Golombek, Harry (1977), "en passant, capture", Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess, Crown Publishing, ISBN 0-517-53146-1
  8. ^ a b Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), "en passant", The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-866164-9
  9. ^ Minev, Nikolay (1998), The French Defense 2: New and Forgotten Ideas, Davenport, Iowa: Thinkers' Press, ISBN 0-938650-92-0
  10. ^ "Steinitz vs. Fleissig, 1882". Chessgames.com.
  11. ^ "Gundersen vs. Faul". Chessgames.com. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  12. ^ a b Winter, Edward (1999), Stalemate, Chesshistory.com, retrieved 2009-06-12
  13. ^ A. Segal vs. K. Podzielny, Dortmund 1980. Published by 365Chess.com. Retrieved on 2009-12-05.
  14. ^ a b Davidson, Henry (1949), A Short History of Chess (1981 paperback ed.), McKay, ISBN 0-679-14550-8
  15. ^ Schiller, Eric (2003), Official Rules of Chess (2nd ed.), Cardoza, ISBN 978-1-58042-092-1
  16. ^ a b Harkness, Kenneth (1967), Official Chess Handbook, McKay, ISBN 1-114-15703-1
  17. ^ Howard, Kenneth S. (1961), How to Solve Chess Problems (2nd ed.), Dover, ISBN 978-0-486-20748-3, retrieved 2009-11-30
  18. ^ Open chess diary by Tim Krabbé – #234

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

External links[edit]