A square rule for separated pawns

Published on Monday, February 16, 2015 in |

In general connected pawns are stronger than separated pawns, but there are some exceptions. An opposing King cannot stop the promotion of two pawns when they are separated by one or more files once they have reached the 6th rank, while he is able to stop the connected pawns.

In the next diagram White will be unable to prevent the promotion of one of the pawns and Black will win the game.


A King is also unable to stop the promotion of two pawns when they are separated by two or more squares once they have reached the fifth rank. And the same is true when they are separated by three or more files once they have reached the fourth rank (unless one of them is captured on the next move).


This is in fact the square rule for two pawns which follows the square rule of the pawn. We’ll continue with eight tactical exercises.

Original 2 Responses to “A square rule for separated pawns”

  1. jawad
    July 1st, 2010 at 3:35 pm
    Thank you for putting up this beautiful website. This particular lesson frustrated me a bit. The title is confusing since things are not explained in terms of square rules.
    It should probably be stated that the white king in this example must be inside the overlapping promotion squares of the two pawns.
    There are other hidden assumptions too. The pawns must be level. The king is on the 8th rank in all examples. Does it need to be for these examples to work?
    Another hidden assumption is that black wins only if it is white’s move, or that white is forced to move the king but black is not forced to move its pawns. The hardest part for me is imagining how the white king can prevent any separated pawns from promoting regardless of what rank they are on. It seems if white captures on pawn, the other has already escaped towards promotion.
  2. Chess Teacher
    July 1st, 2010 at 6:46 pm
    Regarding your last “question”
    If White captures a pawn he can still capture the other pawn if he is able to place his King inside the square as you have seen in the lesson about the square rule.
    During a normal (non internet) lesson it is rather easy to indicate the squares, but I think that you are right that it is not so easy to see them in the lesson above.

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