Pawns are the most numerous piece in Chess, yet also the weakest in power. With the exception of their first turn, they can only move one space at a time and can only capture another piece which is diagonal to it. However, Pawns can be of great use to any Chess strategy, as they aren’t only useful in causing a diversion, but they can also be traded up for other, more valuable pieces if they should manage to make it the entire way across the board without being captured.
These pieces are unique in the fact that they are the only piece which cannot ever move backwards on the board. The Pawn can only ever move forward, sometimes diagonally if it is making a capture. Any piece directly in front of a pawn stops it from being able to move, whether it is a friendly piece or not. The only time a Pawn is able to move if there is a piece directly in front of it comes when the Pawn is able to diagonally capture an opponent’s piece. However, strategic placement of Pawns can greatly aid a player, as they can block an opponent from successfully moving, as if they would go to capture the Pawn, they might easily be taken by another piece. Pawns are most commonly useful as roadblocks, of sorts, allowing the player to shape the chessboard in a way that might be temporarily beneficial.
If the Pawn is successfully able to navigate its way to the complete opposite end of the board, it is then eligible for promotion. Having a Pawn be promoted can be one of the greatest benefits in a Chess game, as it allows that Pawn to become any other piece in the game, save for a King. With Pawn promotion, players are able to have multiple pieces on the board of any one rank, usually of a Queen. As the Queens are the most powerful pieces available in a Chess game, it is usually rare that any other piece is chosen. When it does happen, however, it is usually a Knight piece that is selected due to its unique movement pattern. Frequently, when a Pawn is able to be promoted, the endgame is in sight. Having two pieces available with the power of a Queen is not an easy thing to overcome for any player and often, the best that can be hoped for by the player who did not successfully promote a Pawn is a stalemate.
The Pawns have been a part of Chess since its original conception long ago and has surfaced in every version of Chess that has independently developed around the world. The piece is generally considered to be of the rank of the “common man” in the game, composing the infantry of the royalty which the King, Queen, and Royal Court all stand for. The pieces are generally considered to be expendable, as the entire game revolves around protecting the King from harm. The word Pawn itself is generally considered to mean either “someone who is easily manipulated,” or “someone who is sacrificed for a larger purpose,” making the Pawns generally be the lesser-loved pieces of the game. Yet, these pieces can still hold their own for it is not easy to win a game without the successful strategy of manipulating Pawns.