Can Pawns Move Diagonally In Chess?

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Whenever I play chess with my younger sister, she gets angry because I rarely allow her to promote her pawns. She always looks for ways to promote her pawn. And once she asked me a question which I think you may be also having. Can a pawn move diagonally to promote?

Yes, a pawn can move diagonally to promote if there is an opponent piece to be captured on the adjacent diagonal square of the pawn. However, other than capturing a piece, a pawn can’t move diagonally to promote.

In chess, pawns can move diagonally only while capturing a piece. I know queries like this might sound silly to some but these are important to be clarified in order to have a strong foundation in chess. 

So in today’s article, I am going to discuss with you right from scratch about the movement of the pawns in chess as per the official rules, what is pawn promotion, and also two practical examples in which I will show you when you can move diagonally and when you can’t. 

Hence, this article is really going to be helpful for you. After reading this article most of your doubts will get cleared. So if you are interested then scroll down till the end!

Movement Of Pawn In Chess

There are a total of 16 pawns, 8 black, and 8 white. Now to know the pawn movement we need to consider the standard chess rules.

The standard chess rules are followed as mentioned in the FIDE laws of chess. FIDE is the international body that governs all chess competitions and manages the rating worldwide. In that article 3.7 guides about the movement of the pawn.


In simple words, 

  1. As per the article 3.7.1, a pawn can move one step forward to an unoccupied square.
  2. As per 3.7.2, a pawn can even move two steps but only on its first move.
  3. As per the article 3.7.3, a pawn can move diagonally if there is a piece on the adjacent diagonal square, by capturing that piece.

So, these are the three rules that guide us about the movement of the pawn. As you can clearly notice that a pawn can move diagonally only if there is a piece available to capture. Other than that a pawn can’t move diagonally.

Also Read: Can A Pawn Capture On Its First Move?

There are also some special pawn movement rules mentioned in article 3.7. One is en passant and another is promotion.

In en passant, a pawn captures the opponent pawn that moved two steps, assuming it moved only one step.

This might confuse you a little bit, especially if you are a beginner. But don’t worry I have already written an in-depth article on en passant which explains it from start to finish. So I highly recommend you to check that out.

Now, let’s discuss another special move of pawn and that is pawn promotion quickly. After we’ll dive into our two examples.

Pawn Promotion In Brief

Whenever a pawn reaches the 8th rank (row on the chessboard) of the opposite file (column on the chessboard) it gets promoted to a chess piece of higher value than it. 

A pawn can be promoted to a queen, knight, rook, or bishop only. It can’t be promoted to a king. When we promote a pawn to a queen it is known as queening.

When we promote a pawn to any of the three pieces from knight, bishop, or rook, then it is known as underpromotion.

Generally most of the time, a pawn is promoted to a queen. But in certain positions, you can also promote it to a rook, knight, or bishop.

If while promoting there are no extra queens then as per the FIDE rules, you can pause the clock and ask the arbiter for help. In some cases (under US Chess Federation rules and in casual games) even an inverted rook is used as a promoted pawn.

Here are some helpful resources that will clarify your doubts about pawn promotion.

Now, let’s jump into the examples.

Example-1: When You Can’t Move The Pawn Diagonally And Promote

To understand this more easily let’s discuss everything pointwise.

  • Black’s knight is on f8 square, king on b8, one pawn on d6, and another on a7.
  • White’s king is on a2, knight on c3, bishop on f4, queen on d1, one pawn on b5, one on d5 and another f7 square.
  • It is white’s turn to move.
  • So now I ask you can White move the pawn on f7 square diagonally to promote?
  • The answer is no, right?
  • As we have already discussed that a pawn can move diagonally only if there is a piece available for it to get captured. Other than that a pawn can’t move.
  • A pawn can not move straight and get promoted because the black’s knight is blocking.

Thus, in this kind of case, a pawn can’t move diagonally. Another thing you have to note is that if your king is in check then you can’t make any move unless making that move helps the king to get out of check.

Also Read: Can A Pawn Take A Queen?

Example-2: When You Can Move The Pawn Diagonally And Promote

  • Here black’s king is b8 square, knight is on f8, rook on g8, one pawn on a7, one pawn and another d6.
  • White’s king is on c1, rook on d1, bishop on f3, knight on c3, one pawn on d5 and another on f7.
  • It is white’s turn to move.
  • So again I ask you, can the white pawn on f7 move diagonally to promote?
  • The answer is yes, because here there is a black’s rook on g8 square.
  • And white’s pawn is eligible to capture the rook legally. (and also white’s king is not in check)
  • Thus here white’s f7 pawn can move diagonally, capture black’s rook on g8 and then get promoted.

Final Tips 

Whenever you want to promote your pawn by moving diagonally make sure that 

  1. Your king is not in check.
  2. There is a piece available on the adjacent diagonal square.
  3. And your pawn is eligible to capture that piece in a legal way.

If you can satisfy all these three conditions then you can definitely move your pawn diagonally to promote to a queen, knight, rook, or bishop.

Also Read: Should You Exchange A Bishop For A Knight? (Solved!)


So that’s it friends. 🙂 Hope you understood everything and I was able to clear all your confusion. Just be patient and keep learning the rules of chess. Never feel shy to ask any doubt because misconceptions if not cleared are very harmful in your quest to master chess. 

Just keep reading and keep increasing your chess knowledge. Along with that don’t forget to apply your knowledge and skill in actual chess games.