Is it possible to create a "pawn box" as shown below (using legal moves and the help of black) in standard chess?

The positions don't need to be exactly as shown, and there can be more pieces on the board if required.

[FEN "8/1k6/3PPP2/3P1P2/3PPP2/8/8/2K5 w - - 0 1"]

Note that this is, of course, not too difficult in horde chess as a black knight can remove the central pawn in the box.

  • 5
    You have answers below, but I also tried to check to see if there were any real-world games, but searching Mega 2020, there were not. I knew it was a long shot, but I tried moving that square from b3-g3 all the way across to b6-g6, including every square in between, and then I tried for black, again from b6-g6, and b3-g3. Mar 7, 2020 at 14:18

3 Answers 3


As @BrianTowers showed, it can be done. Here’s a shorter proof game for the fun of it.

[FEN ""]

1. h4 g5 2. hxg5 f5 3. g4 Nf6 4. gxf6 d6 5. gxf5 Be6 6. f4 Bb3 7. axb3 c5 8. e4 c4 9. bxc4 d5 10. cxd5 e6 11. dxe6 Na6 12. b4 Nc5 13. bxc5 Qd5 14. c4 Bd6 15. cxd6 Rf8 16. cxd5 Rh8 17. d4
  • 2
    Could add that this is the shortest possible (for this kind of box at least). Mar 8, 2020 at 11:06
  • White has only made pawn moves, and the ‘bottom’ of the box it at the lowest possible.
    – user24344
    Sep 27, 2020 at 7:25

Here is one simple solution:

[fen ""]

1.c4 d5 2.cxd5 e6 3.dxe6 f6 4.g4 g6 5.g5 Ne7 6.gxf6 Nd5 7.e4 Nc3 8.bxc3 Qd4 9.cxd4 b5 10.d5 b4 11.a3 c6 12.axb4 c5 13.bxc5 Bd6 14.cxd6 g5 15.h3 g4 16.hxg4 Rg8 17.f3 Rg5 18.f4 Rf5 19.gxf5 Na6 20.d4

More moves can be added to reach the exact position with no other pieces other than kings.


This is really not difficult. Brian gave you one example, but you could imagine many more.

It is quite obvious that in order to achieve the "box" as given, white needs to capture 10 black pieces.

Out of the 16 black pieces, all but the black king can help in achieving the box by letting themselves being captured.

The black a and h pawns don't seem at first all that useful as white wants to capture towards the center, however they could still help if they first capture white pieces then sacrificing themselves on say the b,c or f,g files.

A more interesting question could be: On which part of the board can you achieve such a box?

Trying to answer my own question (I label the box by its central square).

  1. box on h-file not possible because of border
  2. box on g-file not possible (too many captures necessary)
  3. box on f-file (I count 14 captures, so possible)
  4. box on e-file possible, see example by Brian
  5. files a-d don't need to be considered separately because of symmetry (a is the same as h, b the same as g, etc)

So in summary, it should be possible to create such box for white on the squares: c5, c6, d4, d5, d6, e4, e5, e6, f5, f6. Similarly for black on the mirrored squares: c3, c4, d3, d4, d5, e3, e4, e5, f3, f4.

  • 3
    "On which part of the board can you achieve such a box?" I would assume that from white's perspective, boxes in the bottom right and left corners would be impossible (especially since no pawns can ever occupy the first rank), getting more possible going forwards and towards the center
    – user45266
    Mar 7, 2020 at 20:58
  • 3
    This sounds like a fun task particularly on the c / f files (where there need to be 14 captures): construct an SPG that builds such a box with each of the black pieces inside it. (Except of course the King, who would be in an illegal double check from two pawns) Mar 8, 2020 at 0:06
  • 1
    Could you not also advance the whole box to the 7th row? Yes, this would put 3 pawns in the back row where they'd normally be promoted, but isn't that optional? (I can't think of any reason in a normal game where you wouldn't want to promote your pawns, but this is obviously not a normal game...) Mar 9, 2020 at 18:12
  • 2
    Promotion is not optional in standard chess (which this question is about). That's why I left it out. Mar 9, 2020 at 18:52

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