When a white pawn and a black pawn are touching on a file, what is it called?


I think what you're asking about is referred to as a "blocked pawn". There is another question here that asks basically the same question, except in reverse... A pawn can also be blocked by another of the opponent's pieces, rather than another pawn. In either case, it can't make any progress unless the pawn/piece blocking it somehow goes away, or unless an opportunity arises for it to capture on an adjacent file.

  • 4
    But a blocked pawn could be blocked by other things, like a knight. – D M Feb 27 '20 at 23:30
  • 2
    True - I edited my answer to reflect this. – patbarron Feb 27 '20 at 23:32

With the exception of Hans Kmoch's attempt to give it a name, which never caught on (I have never seen anyone else use it anywhere), they really do not have a name that I have even seen.

I probably have seen this referred to mostly as "two opposing pawns", but that is really just English rather than a specific chess term.


According to this post, pawns that block each other are called a "ram".

  • 8
    I made a comment about that. Kmoch certainly gave it a name, but if you look through his list of items he gave names to, you will see how strange most of them are, and how very few caught on. The only ones I see in that list that are common are "backward pawn", which he gave his own crazy name to also, "chain", "center pawn", "double pawns", "doubling/undoubling" (which is just English), "passed pawn", "outside passer", "protected passer", and "wing pawn". Those all predated his book, but then, he made up a BUNCH of stuff, and I can see that any of it really caught on. If it doesn't catch on, – PhishMaster Feb 28 '20 at 0:13
  • 6
    is it really what something is called? I would say overall, no, since no one uses the term "ram". All that said, I am not saying that your answer is incorrect, but it is a matter of opinion, and can go either way. – PhishMaster Feb 28 '20 at 0:14
  • 3
    @PhishMaster The term is also used at chessprogramming.org/Pawn_Rams_(Bitboards) – D M Feb 28 '20 at 0:25
  • 3
    I am not saying that no one possibly ever uttered that word in that context, after all, he wrote what was probably the first book dedicated to pawn play, but I am saying that it never REALLY made it into widely-accepted chess vernacular. I would also point out that the site you quoted, although the origin is clear, they are using it more in a programing chess context, rather than about chess play. – PhishMaster Feb 28 '20 at 0:43
  • I'll agree that I never heard of it before, and while searching did bring it up, the search doesn't reveal nearly as many mentions as it would if it were widely used by the chess community. – D M Feb 28 '20 at 4:12

For the scenario where one pawn is on the second rank and the other is its sixth rank but cannot be captured by a pawn on an adjacent file, YouTube vlogger Kingscrusher coined the term "thorn pawn". The chess engine Leela Zero seems to establish thorn pawns quite frequently as part of its strategy, and they can be amazingly effective at limiting enemy mobility. If e.g. Black has castled kingside and the king is at g8, a thorn pawn at g6 can make it impossible for Black to establish f7, g7, or h7 as escape squares. If White keeps a rook ready to pounce on the eighth rank, Black will have to keep a rook on the eighth rank. Unless or until Black can resolve that situation, White's thorn pawn will enormously upgrade the playing strength of White's rooks and downgrade the playing strength of Black's.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.