The en passant chess move is a pawn capture that can only happen immediately after a pawn makes a move of two squares from its starting square and lands on the same file as an adjacent enemy pawn.
The adjacent enemy pawn may immediately capture the pawn as if the pawn had only moved one square forward.
En Passant Giphy
Here’s a video I made about a situation that arose in a chess game between two unrated amateurs in which the en passant chess move could have preserved White’s advantage had he used it…
Video: Don’t Forget En Passant!
(NOTE: I forgot to remove Black’s h8 Rook from the analysis board in the video! It should not be there. The illustrations below show the correct set up for this situation.)
However, because the White player was not familiar with the move, he played a different move which opened up the game to his disadvantage.
White has built up a small material advantage and although Black has several checking options, it is difficult to make any of them stick thanks to White’s positional assets. However, Black can grab White’s f1 Knight with … R x f1 which gives Black’s Rook access to the g1 square and an attack on White’s King.
White would love to be able to get his Queen to c3 or b2 and check Black’s King, but Rxf1 prevents that from happening. So in spite of White’s material advantage, it is Black to move and Black actually has the initiative in this situation.
Black Plays …f5+ Instead… Cue En Passant!
However, instead of playing … Rxf1, the Black player played …f5+ which gave White an opportunity to escape from his immediate difficulties by playing en passant pxf6+!
The giphy below shows how White could have used the g pawn to take Black’s f5 pawn en passant and then moved his Knight away from immediate danger, thus restoring White’s advantage in the game:
- gxf7 (ep) + Kxf6
White Misses His Chance!
Sadly, White was not sufficiently familiar with the en passant chess rule to play it in this game. Instead, White made the disastrous move, exf5?? Now it’s game over for White because Black has the game-ending Ra4+. White should resign since his only two options are to throw unprotected pieces into the Rook’s path,
- Rb4 Rxb4+
- Be4 Rx34 #
A situation like this nicely demonstrates that it’s worth taking some time to learn about en passant chess rule and how and when to use or not to use it in a game of chess.