Understanding Passed Pawns

A passed pawn is a pawn that has no opposing pawns on its file or adjacent files, meaning there are no opposing pawns that can block or capture it. This makes the passed pawn a potential threat as it can advance toward promotion with less opposition.

Passed pawns can have a significant impact on the outcome of a game. They can create tactical opportunities, force the opponent to divert attention and resources to stop their advance, and create weaknesses in the opponent’s position.

Types of Passed Pawns

There are different types of passed pawns based on their position on the board.

Isolated Passed Pawn

This is a passed pawn that has no friendly pawns on adjacent files. It can be more challenging to defend, but it can also be a powerful attacking asset.

Connected Passed Pawn

This is a passed pawn that has friendly pawns on adjacent files. The presence of neighboring pawns can provide support and make it easier to advance the passed pawn.

Protected Passed Pawn

This is a passed pawn that is supported by a friendly piece, usually a pawn or a piece that can defend it. This added protection makes it harder for the opponent to capture or block the passed pawn.

The strength of a passed pawn depends on various factors such as its position on the board, the presence of other pieces, and the overall position of the game. In general, passed pawns become more dangerous as they advance closer to promotion.

It is important to keep an eye on passed pawns during a game, both as the player with the passed pawn and as the opponent. As the player with the passed pawn, you should try to support its advance and create threats with it. As the opponent, you should aim to either block or capture the passed pawn to minimize its impact.

Overall, understanding passed pawns and knowing how to handle them strategically can greatly improve your chances of success in a game of chess.


In this video, we examine the first of several crucial concepts that will serve as the basis for understanding pawn endgames: passed pawns. After clarifying the definition, we consider the various ways of creating passed pawns, and identify five special types of passers that frequently occur in pawn endgames. Finally, we hammer home and contextualize this theoretical knowledge through a few well-selected examples from chess practice.

Daniel Naroditsky

Note: In the “avoid the Deep Freeze” example, I forgot to share the correct move! Rather than playing 1.g3, White first has to play 1.h3 (stopping …g4), then 2.g3, and finally 3.h4.

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