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Rules of Chess: En passant capture FAQ

This webpage gives the answers to some frequently asked questions about the official rules of chess regarding En passant capture. For the full rules of chess, see another webpage.

What is en passant capture?

En passant capture is a special type of move, with which pawns can take other pawns, under specific rules. It goes as follows:
  1. A player moves his pawn two squares, from his second row to his fourth row.
  2. There is a pawn of the opponent that can capture at the squares that is passed over by the pawn.
  3. In that case, this pawn of the opponent has the right to capture en passant in the directly following move.
  4. To capture en passant, the opponents pawn goes to the square passed over by the pawn (i.e., the square on the third row), thus moving diagonally forwards. The captured pawn is taken from the board.

Is it also possible for white to capture en passant?

Sure. See the following example.

Must en passant capture be done immediately, or can I wait some turns before doing it?

You cannot wait. If you want to capture en passant, it must be done on the next move.

Can other pieces except pawns capture en passant?

No. Only pawns can do en passant capturing moves.

Can other pieces except pawns be captured en passant?

No. Only pawns can be captured en passant.

Is it obliged to capture en passant?

No. Like any other capturing move, en passant capture is voluntary.

Is it possible to capture en passant more than once in a game?

Yes. Of course, this then happens with different pawns.

Can an en passant capture happen later?

I have a question in regards to the en-passant move. Let's say that the white pawn takes a double step from the second row to the fourth row on its first move, and the black pawn in turn does the same to where they are now diagonal to one another. If the white pawn then chooses to move one additional square forward (to the fifth row), can the black pawn perform the en-passant and move to the square on the fourth row behind the white pawn and take the white pawn?
No. The en passant capture can only happen directly after the double step move; the pawn that takes must be on the row where the taken pawn has moved to during the double step move, as in the examples above.

Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: October 11, 2002.