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A chess set contains a total of 32 pieces, out of which 16 are pawns. As one of the most common pieces on the board, you may rightfully wonder how do pawns move in chess? At the beginning of each game, both players have access to 8 pawns each. All of these pieces are set up on the second rank and are in front of all other pieces, including the King, Queen, Knights, Bishops, and Rooks. 

Considered to be the most basic soldiers in the entire game, pawns may seem inconsequential. They only take one step forward, they are the weakest links, and they can only capture other pieces diagonally. However, it is often pawn placement and strategy that makes players win the game of chess. In this blog, we will take a look at the intricate movement of pawns across the board. 

How to move a chess pawn?

A chess pawn sits on the second rank of the board. When you first move a pawn, you have the option to take it two squares forward. From the next move, it can only move one square ahead. To capture another piece, a pawn can only move one step diagonally forward. Since a pawn captures pieces in a different manner than other pieces, it can easily be blocked from moving. 

Can pawns move backwards?

The eight pawns that you have on your side of the board can only move forward. As per the rules of a chess game, pawns cannot move backwards. However, these unassuming pieces can help you win the game, especially if you learn more about pawn structure. 

Pawn structure is the configuration of pawns on the board. A chess player who knows how to control the pace of these pawns can change the outcome of the game. Here’s how you too can develop a strategy that makes you win the game: 

Passed Pawn – If a pawn makes its way to the opposite end of the chess board it can be promoted to any other piece on the board, apart from the King. This pawn is called a passed pawn. It has the potential to become a powerful piece and can create a disadvantage for the opponent. 

Isolated Pawn –  A chess pawn that doesn’t have any protection from its counterparts is called an isolated pawn. Since it is susceptible to attacks by the opponent’s pieces, it creates a major personal disadvantage. While you’re in the beginning and middle of the game, you can easily protect isolated pawns through pawn placement. However, it is in the endgame that these pawns are often captured. 

Connected Pawns – Pawns that are protected by other pawns placed diagonally adjacent are called connected pawns. The pawns that are connected offer a huge advantage as they create a powerful pawn structure. They remain protected from the opponent’s attack and can also restrict their movement across the board. 

Backward Pawn –  When a connected pawn is unable to move ahead without getting captured it is called a backward pawn. Since this pawn cannot advance ahead safely, they create a personal disadvantage. 

Doubled Pawns – If two pawns stand on the same line, they create one of the weakest pawn structures. These doubles pawns are unable to defend themselves or each other and can easily be blocked by the opponent. 

Pawn Majority – If you have additional pawns than your rival player, you have a pawn majority. This pawn structure is quite valuable as it allows you to control your side. It also allows you to take a passed pawn towards the other end of the board. 

How far can pawns move in chess?

If you’re wondering how far can chess pawns move in chess, you’re in the right place. A chess pawn can make its way to the other end of the board – on the opponent’s side of the back rank. Upon its arrival, it can be exchanged for another piece like a Queen, Rook or Bishop. 

It is often that players choose to promote the passed pawn to a Queen as it is one of the most powerful pieces on the board. This sudden advantage proves to be a tactical turning point, thereby allowing you to easily achieve a checkmate. 
If you’re learning to play chess, focusing on pawn structure can help you reach the endgame with a major advantage. However, learning chess can often be a series of trial and error. Automated chess boards by Square Off can help you learn the game of chess with personalised coaching, automated chess piece movements, advanced robotics, and interactive lights.