Capture Moves

Captures moves in chess are done simply by moving the piece to the same square as the enemy piece, removing the enemy piece, and putting your piece on the same square where the enemy was. This is all done in one move.

Some of the special factors in capture moves include:

Piece Capture Moves

Most pieces move exactly the same way as they capture. If they can move to the square, then can capture any piece on that square. This is true for Queens, Rooks, Knights, Bishops, and Kings.

Pawn Captures

But it isn’t true for Pawns, which are different, with special “pawn capture rules”. Pawns move forwards into empty squares (without capturing), but can only capture diagonally. Pawns cannot capture forwards, and they cannot move diagonally unless capturing, which makes them very different from the other chess pieces.

En Passant

There is also one bizarre exception in chess where you actually move a pawn to diagonally capture an empty square, as part of an imaginary capture of a pawn as it passes your pawn. This is the “en passant rule” for pawn captures.

Optional versus Must-Take Rules

Capturing is optional. There is nothing in normal chess that requires you to make a capture move, even if there is one available. Obviously it’s often great to capture enemy pieces, but you are not required to. And if there’s more than one capture move, you can capture any of them, it is not restricted to the piece that just moved. (Note that there is a “must take” rule in some chess variants, such as “suicide chess”.)

Touch Move Rule Captures

Another time when you must take occurs in the “touch move rule” in tournaments. If you touched an enemy piece, then you are supposed to take that piece if any of your own pawns or pieces can legally capture it.


Self-captures are not allowed in normal chess. You are not allowed to capture your own pieces or pawns. Usually you wouldn’t want to, but occasionally in advanced chess it would actually be helpful!

Advanced Rules

And some special moves also do not allowed captures. You cannot do any type of capture as part of the Castling Move. And the pawns special 2-square starting move is not a capture, like any other pawn forward move.

Related Chess Rules Topics

Read more about these related chess rules, chess puzzles, and other chess tactics and strategies: