Pawn is considered the weakest piece in chess. It can only move one to two steps forward and kill a piece that is on its adjacent diagonal square in the forward direction. But, can a pawn check a king?
Yes, a pawn can check and even checkmate a king. However, for directly checking the king, the pawn requires the assistance of the other chess pieces. For indirect check, the pawn can be first promoted and then used to check the king.
Ahead, I’m going to discuss this further with examples. How does a pawn check a king? What is a direct pawn check to a king? What is promoted pawn check to a king? And in the end, I’ll discuss some of the related queries. So continue reading till the end!
But before starting let’s clarify and revise some of the basics of chess in brief related to this topic.
What is check in chess?
According to Wikipedia, check means when your king is in THREAT by opponent’s next move.
In simple words, a check is a situation where your opponent’s pieces are placed in such that if you don’t take any immediate action to save your king, then you will get checkmated.
There are three ways you can respond to a check and save your king.
- By capturing the attacking chess piece.
- By keeping a piece between your king and the attacking chess piece.
- By moving your king to a safer square.
Suggested Read: How To Play Chess? A Step-By-Step Beginner’s Guide!
What is checkmate in chess?
Checkmate, in short also called a mate. According to Wikipedia checkmate is a condition when you have no legal ways to save your king from a check by your opponent’s pieces.
Checkmate denotes the end of the game. The side which receives a checkmate loses the game and the other side wins the game. You can also read my detailed article on checkmate rules.
What is pawn promotion in chess?
As per the standard chess rules, when a pawn reaches the other side on the farthest rank of the chessboard, it gets promoted. The pawn is promoted to a queen, a rook, a bishop, or a knight of the same color.
As per this law, you are not restricted to choose only the previously captured chess piece.
That means you are free to promote your pawn into a chess piece of your choice. But yes you can only promote to either queen, rook, knight, or bishop.
So now we have discussed all the chess basics that will be required to know the topic. So without further ado let’s dig in!
Example #1: Pawn giving check to the king
A pawn can directly give check to a king. However it requires help of other chess pieces.
Now let’s study this case and positions of the chess pieces pointwise:
- The Black’s king is on e8 position.
- It’s movement on f8 is blocked by Black’s bishop.
- Now as you can see in the image, the black king is attacked by two white pieces.
- White’s Pawn and King.
- So the Black’s king is in check.
- Thus this is one of the possibility where a king is checked by a pawn.
There are many other possibilities as above where a pawn can check the opponent’s king. But one thing to note that is, this situation is only favorable when you have many other pieces in backup.
Here although pawn checked the king but it was supported by the e6 king. So this thing you should keep in mind while playing.
Sometimes another scenario can occur where a pawn is promoted. (Assuming you know pawn promotion very well) And the promoted pawn can check the king. This is a very interesting case which we are going to discuss now. Let’s begin!
Example #2: Pawn promoted and giving a check to the king
A pawn can even check the king after it is promoted to some another chess piece.
Here as soon as white’s pawn is promoted to a queen black’s king is in check.
Let’s study this case and respective positions of the chess pieces pointwise:
- White’s Pawn at d8 promoted to a queen
- Black’s king is on h8
- Its h7 and g7 position is blocked by the White’s king at h6. (You can refer to the image if any confusion)
- Now g8 position is also blocked by the pawn promoted as a queen.
- Thus, in this way a promoted pawn can also check a king.
- Moreover, here black’s king is checkmated.
Can a pawn kill a king?
No, a pawn can’t kill a king because a king can’t be killed or captured. In chess, the game ends just before capturing the king, at the point when the king is checkmated. However, a pawn can check and checkmate a king.
So a pawn can’t take a king. I have written an in-depth article on can a king kill a king in chess. In that, I have talked about why a king can’t be captured. So you can check that out for further information.
Now, I already discussed how a pawn can check a king. And as you know when a king can’t get out of the check, it is called checkmate, right?
Therefore, since a pawn is able to check the king it can also checkmate the king. In fact, there are many popular cases in which a pawn can checkmate a king.
For example, a chess game was played between Ely O Sollano vs Frederick Rhine. The game ended with a very nice discovered checkmate by a pawn.
In case you don’t know, discovered checkmate occurs when you move a piece and the piece hidden by that piece delivers checkmate to the opponent king.
In the above example, as soon as the black pawn is moved to c2 square, the black bishop hidden behind it comes into the picture and immediately checkmates the white king.
There are no places where the white king can be moved. As you can see all the squares available to the white king are attacked by the black pawn and the black bishop.
Also, the white king can’t be saved by blocking the attack or capturing the piece. Hence this is the condition of checkmate delivered by the black pawn.
Like this, there are other examples as well where a pawn checkmates a king (after promotion and even by en passant). Thus, a pawn can checkmate a king.
Read Related: Can A Pawn Kill On Its First Move?
That’s it! Hope you understood everything I discussed with you so far. Now let’s take a quick recap of whatever we learned so far:
- Check means whenever your king is threatened by the opponent’s next move. You have to take immediate action to save your king.
- Checkmate is when you have no ways left to move your king to a safe position.
- Pawn promotion means whenever a pawn reaches the other side of the board it gets promoted to a higher piece which could be a queen, rook, knight, bishop.
- How pawn checks a king?– A pawn checks a king with the support of other chess pieces. Alone it can’t check. Another way is when it gets promoted to a higher chess piece then it checks the king.
- Case study-1, when a pawn checks the king directly discussed in detail.
- Case study-2, when a pawn first gets promoted and then checks the king discussed in detail.
- Finally, we discussed if the pawn can kill a king or not and the example of pawn checkmating a king.
So I hope you find this article helpful! 🙂 Thanks
Can a pawn become a king?
No, a pawn can’t become a king. As per the standard chess rules, a pawn can become a queen, knight, rook, or bishop by pawn promotion but it can’t become a king or a pawn.
Can a pawn kill a queen?
Yes, a pawn can kill a queen and even other chess pieces like a bishop, knight, rook, or another pawn as long as it legal to do so. Pawn is just like any other chess piece which can capture the opponent piece provided all the standard chess rules are followed.
Can a pawn move diagonally?
Yes, a pawn can move diagonally but only capturing the opponent piece. As per the standard rules of chess, a pawn can capture a piece that is on its adjacent diagonal square in the forward direction. You can read my article on which chess pieces can move diagonally to know more about this.
Can a pawn kill backwards in chess?
No, a pawn can’t kill backwards. According to the standard rules of chess, a pawn can only kill diagonally in the forward. Pawn is the only piece in chess that neither move nor kills backwards. You can read my article on which chess pieces can move backwards to know more about this.
Hi! I’m Pritam and I’m a huge chess enthusiast! I know the actual problems that chess players face. I created this site to make chess easy to understand for newcomers, and also to help players of all levels of ability to improve their chess playing skills. Read more about me here.