If you are just starting to learn chess then you must’ve heard about the theoretical value people put on specific pieces.
Such contributes to the priority scale to consider when making exchanges. If this is a thought you have asked yourself, then I am here to provide a detailed explanation!
This could help you avoid being cheated at due to lack of sufficient knowledge, especially in street and bet games where people take any advantage they can have.
A pawn can capture a King just like how any lesser valued piece can capture a higher valued one.
As some who have been playing chess for years, here is what I know:
Technically, nothing can capture a King since the King is not allowed to move in any square where it can be captured. However, a pawn can cause a check and a checkmate even if it doesn’t capture the King just like with other pieces.
This is a concept that most beginners miss in their games as our brain just naturally looks for mates using the bigger pieces, not the smaller ones.
Such pieces are easier to spot and therefore would unknowingly be considered first in contrast to a small pawn.
How does a pawn capture?
Before learning about the mechanics behind any special situation such as this, first we need to learn the basics of how a pawn works.
The excellent video below provides explains just that, here it is (it’s a short video):
The pawn can capture on each of the upper side square tile on the file it is facing (file as the vertical line or a column that goes from end to end of the board).
By capturing a unit, the pawn takes the place of the one that gets captured.
This essentially means that the pawn can only switch the column that it resides in once a capture is made.
A pawn cannot head into another file by any other method than that of a capture and once on another file.
The pawn is not allowed change course as well and should only be able to move forward.
The pawn will only run out of moves once it is blocked (another piece is in the way and thus must be removed first), or it reaches the other side of the board where it can undergo promotion.
The King has several ways to sneak into a pawn’s range for gobble several of them, where there is a total of 6 tiles it can access when initiating a capture.
These are the front, the two sides, and the three back tiles, where the King should get around using these 6 squares while still avoiding the other two on the upper side.
A pawn can only capture on those sides, therefore a King in the very front of a pawn.
It means the inability of the said pawn to move until the blocking piece free the square for the pawn to make an advance.
This essentially means that the King can actually use the pawn as a shield in certain situations due to the gaps in its capture capabilities.
Can the King enter the pawn’s capture tiles?
A King cannot enter any space where there is a threat of a capture no matter whether it is a Knight or Bishop— it doesn’t matter, as the King should always be on the safe tile.
With the same principle in mind, a pawn can also capture any pieces as long as they land on any of the two square space of its range.
This essentially means that a well-placed pawn can create a sort of blockage to prevent the King from marching above the board.
This is actually a well-known idea in endgames, and is basis for keeping the shutdown on the King as one of the most valuable piece in that stage of the game.
It is important to note in this case , what is the pawn’s range actually scales up to and how exactly it can prevent you from entering particular tiles.
Pawn takes King!Wegochess
The pawn is very limited on its capture potential and can be described as the lowest or least valuable one in the game.
This is due to the pawn’s petty reach (two upper sides from the way it is facing) that leaves so many holes not only for the king, but also for the other pieces to be able to block and even capture the pawn first before it gets anything done.
Particularly, the pawn leaves a very big space for the king in the front tile, as the pawn can only the advanced forward but not capture in the same fashion.
This gives huge opportunity for the king to undermine the pawn but there’s a big however, and that is trapping the king with pawns is not an easy feat.
It is actually the opposite, the pawn or pawns are more likely to be gagged and captured by the King or any other pieces than the other way around.
It usually only happen though when the position gets blocked (which the player can prevent btw) or the game reaches an end game phase we’re each other’s King and pawns tries to box each other out.
How can a pawn deliver checkmate
I know this sounds silly at first , but a pawn can definitely cause a checkmate.
I mean the pawn can capture the king right?
And that is kinda the point of checkmate, which is an unstoppable capture of the enemy King.
It’s actually quite funny when i get to see this on my own games, as i mean it’s just a pawn right? and it causes a checkmate 🙂
A pawn can restrict the King’s movement by a lot just by staying on the front of the King’s reach.
In normal positions, this shouldn’t be an issue since the very upper tile (not the side) is a safe tile for the King (the pawn cannot capture this way).
However, closed position in endgames are not that rare and creates a blockage where the King cannot enter.
There are special cases in chess games where the King has been deprived of a lot of squares and is usually when there’s a hunt on an open space, or a blunder has been made in the endgame.
Once the King is cramped and have no more escape tile to run from, a pawn can definitely deliver a checkmate with a pawn push.
Although the pawn can deliver a checkmate (puts the king in an unstoppable capture) doesn’t mean it happens often .
In fact, I only ever remembering to accomplish this task once in my entirety of chess games.
This could certainly be a wrong number as I tend to forget a lot of things, but it’s definitely a good ground to base expectations in real hard games.
The pawn in itself rarely causes even a check as it only ever cover two tiles than compared to the access most other pieces have.
This almost means that in cases where it has delivered the checkmate, other piece must’ve helped in some way to block the king’s escape and just provided the support for the queen the deal the final blow.
In most instances, the pawn can only ever connect an attack to the king when the said king is in the run from other pieces in an open board, where it will soon get checkmated anyway.
It usually serves just as a kind of support for the queen or other highly attacking piece that would be doing the capture.
This doesn’t mean of course the pawn cannot checkmate on its own (I don’t know how many times I have to say this), or there aren’t any positions where the pawn delivering the check is actually the correct move.
There will of course be situation where the viable final blow is a pawn move.
Mostly when the king is trapped with nowhere to go and the opponent’s pieces cover the tiles where the attacking pieces can deliver the fatal move.
But to recap, the king is definitely vulnerable to capture from any piece despite their piece value or any piece at all in that regard.
There’s only two requirement to initiate a capture:
One the player who captured the piece should do so in his or her turn.
Two, the capturing piece is able to move in the captured particular square through that piece’s movement option ( bishop- diagonal, Rook -vertical, etc.).
So next time your opponent tries to trick you into letting the King march despite the pawn’s reach then shove this in his face!
That is an illegal move and everything can be captured in Chess no matter the score it has, that’s kinda the point.
If the score does really make a piece immune to lower pieces, then a King can never be captured since its estimate value is more than that of infinity.
No amount of combination from other pieces can beat that :p.