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What is an en passant in chess? [Solved]

The main reason for having en passant in the game of chess is to prevent the opponent’s pawn piece from advancing two squares from its starting square and preventing it from what would have been an easy escape from your pawn (which would be stationed on the fifth rank of the adjacent file).

What is an en passant in chess

The one-line answer is, that en passant is the unique rule in chess that allows you to capture the pawn when he moves two squares in order to prevent it from being captured.

The en passant move is aligned with Fide and USCF tournament rules and is a legitimate move to play even with its unusual yet unique playstyle.

The laws of chess are direct and have been solidified through time. There have been so many chess tournaments in the past few centuries that deserve this credit. En passant is one of the notable exceptions to the rules.

Before going into detail about en passant, let me explain with pictures, so you can understand en passant better.

Here is starting position of the opening called the scotch gambit.

Starting position of en passant

In this position white can play c4 move, please remember that we are not learning the opening instead we are learning en passant. So white played c4 move because you have the option to move pawns two squares in starting of the game, and after moving two squares you have to move only one square.

another position of en passant

Now white played c4, you can see in the picture below.

en passant in action

In the above position, white played c4 according to the chess rules that for the first time he can play any pawns to two squares. Now black has the option for en passant, which means you have the opportunity to capture this pawn although the pawn can not capture the right or left side.

how en passant move works

how en passant move works

The above picture explains everything you need to know about en passant. Here is the final execution of en passant move.

en passant applied

I hope that I cleared all the questions about en passant move and now you are ready to play en passant move. For further explanation of en passant, I am giving the whole process in game mode below. Play the game below and you will know how to play the en passant move.

If you still need more information about en passant, you can continue reading the rest of the article.

What is En Passant in chess?

En passant is a chess move created in response to the introduction of another move. Both these moves involve the pawn, the lowest level chess piece, which can move one square forward or diagonally by standard rules.

The one square forward rule was updated to allow the pawn to move two squares forward only on a pawn’s first move. This helped to quicken the pace of the game in general.

En passant meaning

En passant is denoted by “e.p” in chess notation. It stands for ‘in passing’ in French, precisely how the ‘capture pawn’ captures the opponent’s pawn. Usually, in chess, the opposing piece would occupy the captured piece’s position to capture a piece.

However, while using the en passant move, the pawn capturing moves diagonally next to the pawn to be captured. In other words, a pawn that moves two squares forward on its first turn is susceptible to the en passant move from the opposing pawn.

It’s important to remember that an en passant can only occur between two pawns and can not involve any other chess piece. The King, Queen, rook, bishop, or knight can not perform the en passant move.

Why was the en passant move introduced?

En passant the move allowed the pawn to move two squares instead of one on its first move. This made the game a bit more fast-paced because most chess matches take too long.

So, with the introduction of this new rule came new drawbacks. It gave certain advantages to moving the pawn two squares at the start of a pawn’s move. The en passant capture was introduced to prevent an unfair advantage in a match.

Hence one of the main requirements to perform an en passant capture is that the opposing pawn you are capturing must have moved two squares.

When and how many times can en passant capture be used?

There are some things to note before you can initiate an en passant.

⦁ The pawn that is going to be initiating the en peasant must be on the fifth rank (row) of the adjacent file (column). This means your pawn must have already advanced three squares before the en passant capture move.

⦁ In its first and only in that single turn, the pawn being captured must have advanced two squares instead of one.

⦁ The en passant capture must be initiated immediately on your turn after the opposing pawn advances two squares. Otherwise, you lose the chance to use the en passant capture move.

Players have to be wary about when to use the en passant. This is because there could be another piece on the board which you must give attention to during a turn. In such an instance, you might lose the chance to perform the en passant altogether because of its one time per opposing player’s every pawn’s initial move.


En passant was introduced to make the game more exciting. Having a single-piece type break the traditional rules of chess legally gives way to many strategic moves.

Although it has limitations that allow it to break standard practices, it is also helpful to be careful about when to use it. If done right, you can enjoy a strategic advantage; it might put you on the board, but if done wrong, you might end up with a penalty.

I hope you learned the en passant rule and now you know what is en passant, if you have any questions related to en passant, feel free to ask.

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