Pawns are the smallest and weakness pieces in chess. Each player starts the game with 8 pawns along the front row. Pawns move forwards, but never backwards. A pawn on its start square can move 1 square forward, or can jump 2 squares forwards (but not over a piece). Pawns that have moved once can then only move a single square forward. However, pawns cannot capture moving forward, but capture diagonally, and can only move diagonally by capturing.

Pawn Special Moves

Pawns also are very important because they have the potential to change into Queens once they have moved far enough to reach the last rank (i.e. the enemy’s first rank). And they can also change into other pieces (Knights, Bishop or Rook) called “under-promotion” although usually players want a Queen. There is also a weird chess rule called the “en passant capture”.

Pawn Value

Material is chess is measured in terms of pawns. A pawn is considered to be worth 1 pawn, obviously. Knights and Bishops are worth about 3 pawns, Rook are 5 pawns, Queens are 9 pawns, and the King is infinity (or its attacking power is apparently about the same as a Knight or Bishop, but only in the endgame).

Pawn Forks

Pawns are often involved in “pawn forks”, but a pawn cannot pin or skewer a piece. A lot of tactics in advanced chess involves trying to win one of the opponent’s many pawns.

Pawn Structure

A lot of the positional strategy in chess revolves around the “pawn structure” of a position. Is the position an “open position” or a “closed position” with interlocking pawn chains. Are the pawns in formations like isolated pawns, doubled pawns, backward pawns, and many other possibilities.

Related Chess Tactics

Read more about these related chess strategies: