Friday 13 January 2023

A Philosophical Question

Courtesy of the book "The Pleasures of Chess" comes the following philosophical question. If a pawn is captured en-passant, did it really reach the square it intended to move to? 

When I explain en-pas to new players, I normally start with the long ago decision to allow a pawn to move squares on its first move. I then move onto the notion that the opponent gets the immediate chance to capture it 'as though it only moved 1 square'. This is to compensate the opponent for the missed chance to take it, once the rules had been altered.

But the position to the right shows the flaw in this reasoning. If White plays 1.Bg2 is it checkmate or not? Under the Laws of Chess Black can play 1. ... d5, not only blocking the check, but checkmating White instead! But it could be argued that due to the potential en-pas capture (2. cxd ep) the pawn could never reach d5, and therefore could never block the Bishop check. So who has been checkmated here?

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