The Intrepid Soldier of Chess, the Pawn

No army is complete without soldiers. However far back in time, we go to study the history of chess, there have always been foot soldiers as intrinsic part of the game, as there are in the history of both ancient and modern warfare.

 chess

Each side starts out with no less than eight pawns, strategically positioned directly ahead of King, Queen, and other officers. Except for the knight, who simply hops over any obstacle it encounters, no chessman can even move without the pawns clearing the way first. Needless to say that pawns, like soldiers in a real war, are the first ones to really get the fight going. They will occupy space, drive back enemy forces, and, if necessary, sacrifice themselves for the greater good!

The fighting power of a pawn is insignificant compared to the other officers. Our soldier can only move one step ahead at a time (or two when still in starting position) or capture a piece that is diagonally ahead of them.

Is our soldier doomed to be a soldier for all times? No! A pawn has the unique capability of promotion. When it finally reaches the opposite side of the board, it magically transforms into or promotes to, any chess piece the player decides. Usually, it is a new or second Queen that is chosen, she is after all by far the strongest force on the board. Sometimes though it is convenient to choose another knight and this typically happens when there is a need for the knight's unique L-shaped movement which the Queen does NOT have.

 chess set

The promotion feature may well make a chess game the only place on earth where more than one Queen may rule! And as this would undoubtedly create chaos in a real-life situation, all modern day chess players consider multiple Queens the most normal thing on the planet.

 

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