One of the most important things to master in chess is maximizing the potential of each piece on the board, and the first piece to begin with is the pawn.
Due to its limited movements, the pawn is viewed as the weakest piece on the board. This begs the question, can a pawn take a king?
In short, no, a pawn can’t take the king. In fact, no chess piece can take the king because the king can only be trapped or put in checkmate.
In today’s post, we learn more about chess pawns and what they can and can’t take. Let’s jump right into it!
How to Use a Pawn in Chess?
Each player has a total of eight pawns. Chess players mostly sacrifice pawns for better moves or more vital chess pieces.
The pawn is mainly considered the weakest piece in chess due to its limited movements. Unlike the knight, bishop, or rook, it can only move one space forward, except for the first move when the pawn can move two squares forward.
In addition, a pawn is the only piece that uses two different moves simultaneously. It usually moves straight forward, one square at a time.
However, when the pawn captures other pieces on the chessboard, it moves one square forward diagonally, whether the attacked chess piece is on the pawn’s left or right.
Can a Pawn Take a King in Chess?
No, a pawn can’t take a king in chess. However, it’s not for the reasons you’re thinking.
You probably think that a pawn can’t take a king because it’s powerless against the king, but the real reason a pawn can’t take a king is that no chess piece can.
Unlike any other piece, the king is the most important. Once the king is attacked by the opponent’s piece(s) and have no escape route (checkmated), the game is over.
For this reason, a king can only be in checkmate, but it can’t be taken or captured by any of the pieces, no matter their status.
In other words, the question about the pawn vs. the king is valid. However, after reframing our original question, the question will be, can a pawn checkmate a king?
Can a Pawn Checkmate the King?
Yes, a pawn can checkmate a king. However, it’s not by any means an easy feat.
Case 1: A Pawn Checkmating the King on Its Own
There’s no way for a pawn to checkmate the king without the help of other pieces. Due to its very limited movements, there’s no possible way a pawn can corner the king alone.
Like a pawn, the king can move only one square, but it differs in the variety of directions it can move. A king can move diagonally, horizontally, or vertically.
Provided the pawn and king’s movement, a pawn close enough to checkmate the king (diagonally to the king) will be captured by the king first if there are no other pieces to cover it.
Case 2: A Pawn Checkmating the King With the Help of Another Piece
A pawn has a better chance at checkmating the king when paired with another chess piece. Preferably, the pawn should be accompanied by another piece that can move more freely, like a queen or a rook.
However, using a pawn and another piece to checkmate the king is complicated. Even then, cornering the king with a pawn is few and far between in chess games. Statistically, it only happens once every thousand games or so.
Case 3: Promoting Your Pawn to a Queen
Promoting a pawn to a queen is one of the most popular moves in chess endgames, and it’s the most effective way to use a pawn to checkmate a king.
First, the pawn needs to move along the chessboard till it reaches the farthest square on the opponent’s side.
Once the pawn reaches the farthest square on the opponent side, a player can change it for a knight, bishop, rook, or queen.
For our purpose, we need to promote our pawn to a queen. In this case, the “queened” pawn can effortlessly checkmate the king alone or with the help of other pieces.
At this point, you could have two queens making it even easier to checkmate the king. For that, promoting your pawns is the best way to use them in a chess endgame.
Can a Pawn Take a Queen?
In theory, a pawn can take the queen, or any other piece on the board, for that matter—except for the king, of course.
Even so, due to its limited movements, it’s very hard for a pawn to compete with other pieces on the board, especially the queen. After all, the queen is the strongest piece on the chessboard.
In contrast to a pawn’s limited moves, the queen can move any number of squares. It can move forward, backward, and even diagonally. This makes it an extremely powerful piece.
On that account, a pawn can only take a queen in some rare circumstances. The circumstances may involve either bad moves from your opponent or a tricky checkmate.
To Sum It All Up
A pawn is the weakest piece on the chessboard because of its limited moves. However, it’s vital in openings and can be effective in endgames.
Can a pawn take a king? The answer is no. A pawn can’t take a king, neither can any piece on the board. Chess pieces can checkmate the king, not capture him.
A pawn can arguably checkmate a king, but it’s extremely hard to do so without any help from other chess pieces. However, a pawn can checkmate a king easily when promoted to a queen.