The En Passant Capture in Chess


Those of you not sufficiently familiar with the rules of chess, might not recognize this as a legal move. It is, this is the infamous en passant capture. The rule allowing the pawn to advance two squares on its first move is an invention of impatient Europeans, probably Italians, circa 1500. Originally, pawns could always move one square only. But the new rule brought with it the protest that a pawn taking advantage of the two square move could avoid being exposed to capture by an appropriately placed opposing pawn. So, the en passant rule was introduced to compensate for this effect. The rule allows the pawn that is being passed to make a capture anyway, as if the pawn passing it had moved only one square, but that capture must be made on the next move. The phrase en passant means in passing, in French. See the En Passant Capture FAQ.


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