# Can you check a king with a pawn?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

In chess, it is indeed possible to check a king with a pawn. While pawn checks are not as common as checks from other pieces, they can still play a significant role in the game. Let’s dive deeper into this topic and explore the scenarios in which a pawn can check the opponent’s king.

Firstly, let’s understand the basic movement of pawns. Pawns are unique in their movement compared to other pieces on the chessboard. They can only move forward, and their capture is different from their regular movement. Pawns typically move one square forward, but on their first move, they have the option to move two squares forward. Pawns capture diagonally, one square forward and to the left or right.

Now, let’s consider a situation where a pawn can check the opponent’s king. To check the king, the pawn needs to reach a square that is attacking the king directly. This means that the pawn needs to move to a square that is either on the same rank (horizontal line) or the same file (vertical line) as the opponent’s king.

One common scenario where a pawn can check the king is when it reaches the opponent’s back rank, also known as the eighth rank for White and the first rank for Black, without being captured. When a pawn reaches the back rank, it can be promoted to any other piece (except another king). Therefore, if a pawn reaches the last rank, it can be promoted to a queen, rook, bishop, or knight. If the newly promoted piece is placed on a square attacking the opponent’s king, it results in a check.

For example, imagine a situation where a white pawn reaches the eighth rank on the file directly in front of the black king, and it is then promoted to a queen. The newly promoted queen can now attack the black king, placing it in check. The black king must then move out of check in the next move.

It is important to note that a pawn check can also occur during the middle or endgame when the board is more open. In these situations, a pawn may be able to move to a square that attacks the opponent’s king, resulting in a check.

However, it is crucial to consider that pawn checks are relatively rare compared to checks from other pieces. This is mainly because pawns are often focused on their primary role of advancing and controlling the center of the board rather than directly attacking the opponent’s king.

In my personal experience, I have encountered situations where pawn checks played a decisive role in the game. These scenarios often arise in complex positions where piece mobility is restricted, and a pawn can unexpectedly deliver a check, forcing the opponent’s king to move and potentially creating tactical opportunities.

To summarize, while pawn checks are not as common as checks from other pieces, they can still occur in chess. Pawns can check the opponent’s king by reaching a square that directly attacks the king, often by promotion to another piece on the back rank. However, it is important to remember that pawn checks are relatively rare and typically arise in specific game situations.