A passed pawn is a dangerous piece for your opponent. Once it reaches to the other side of the board, it can promote into a rook, knight, bishop or the powerful queen.
Because of the potential power that passed pawns possess, it’s important that players strive to create them any chance they get. It’s also important that you get rid of these pawns if you are on the defensive end.
Once a pawn reaches to the last rank of the chess board, it is usually game over. So many players want to know “Can a promoted pawn be taken immediately?” Here is what you need to know.
Can A Promoted Pawn Be Taken Immediately?
Yes, a promoted pawn can be taken immediately by the opposing side, as long as it is a legal capture. A promoted pawn can be captured by a king, queen, bishop, knight or rook. The only piece that cannot immediately capture a promoted pawn is a pawn itself.
This is practically impossible because the pawn would have to capture diagonally backwards to remove the promoted piece. And, as we know, pawns cannot capture backwards.
Let’s look at some practical examples where a promoted pawn was taken immediately.
Knight Captures Promoted Pawn
A knight can immediately take a promoted pawn in a L-shape direction. In other words, the knight moves two squares like a rook and then one square at a right angle. In the position below, the white knight can immediately take the Queen which was just promoted.
Black promotes his pawn to a queen on the next move
The white knight takes the promoted pawn on the next move
White can then advance is a-pawn and promote it to to a queen to seal victory.
Rook Captures Promoted Pawn
A rook may capture a promoted pawn on the back rank or file. Rooks move and capture pieces up, down or sideways. There is a general concensus that rooks belong behind passed pawns (no matter if you are the side attacking or defending).
In the position below, white has a powerful passed pawn on the b-file, but black has managed to get his rook behind the passed pawn in order to capture it once it promotes to a queen. The game should end in a draw after 1.g8 Rxg8+ 2.Kxg8
Bishop Captures Promoted Pawn
Bishops are long ranged pieces that can move and capture pieces diagonally any amount of squares. Bishops are great attackers and defenders of passed pawns because they can swiftly move across from one end of the board to the other.
In the position below the black bishop is controlling the queening square on f8 and is ready to capture the passed pawn in the event that it promotes into a queen. Black comfortably wins the game by advancing his own c-pawn into a queen.
The black bishop may capture the promoted pawn immeidately once it arrives on f8
Queen Captures Promoted Pawn
The queen moves and captures pieces in any direction, any amount of squares in a straight line. This makes the queen one of the best defenders and attackers of the passed pawn. Just like all the other pieces, the queen can immediately take a promoted pawn that reached the end of the board.
In the position below, there is race to see who can promote their passed pawn first. It appears that black may get the chance to promote his outside h-pawn, but with closer inspection black is totally doomed.
The problem is that after white promotes his a-pawn to a queen, the white queen would have control over the a8 to h1 diagonal. Therefore after black promotes his pawn, the white queen would immediately capture it and win the game.
White to move promotes his passed pawn first
White has control of the long diagonal and will immediately take the promoted pawn
These types of pawn races are very typical in the endgame. So it’s important to keep this position at the back of your mind whenever you are in a scurry to promote your pawn.
King captures promoted pawn
Our last example is when the king takes a promoted pawn. The king can capture the pawn one square in any direction. This means if the pawn or piece is on any of the king’s neighboring squares, then it can be captured.
In the game below, white is just in time to stop the black pawn from promoting into a queen.
When Is It Illegal To Capture A Promoted Pawn Immediately
A promoted pawn cannot be captured by another piece immediately under certain conditions. For example, if one of his pieces are pinned to the king. Let’s take a deeper look.
If the piece wanting to capture the promoted pawn is pinned to the king
A piece that is pinned to it’s king by another piece cannot move until the pin is released. It would be illegal to move the piece that is defending the king. In the position below the white knight is pinned to the white king by the black rook.
It’s black to play. White would love to recapture the promoted pawn but unfortunately it is pinned to the white king. Black promotes his pawn on the next move and wins the game being up a queen and rook vs knight and bishop.
White cannot take the promoted pawn immediately
Our second example is similar to the previous one, but this time it’s a bishop that is pinned to the king. At first glance this may seem strange, a bishop pinning a bishop?
That’s correct, if black now pushes his pawn forward to promote to a queen, the white bishop cannot capture the promoted pawn because of its defensive duties to the white king. That would leave the king open to the black bishop which is illegal.
Black play d1 and safely promotes to a queen to win the game
A promoted pawn can indeed be taken immediately once the capture is legal. If you are on the defensive end of the game, it’s important that you keep these pawns at bay, as once they get to promote, it’s usually game over.