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Chess is a game of strategy and tactics that has been played for centuries. One of the many concepts that can be employed in a game of chess is the “poisoned pawn”. In this article, we will explore what a poisoned pawn is, why it is important in the game of chess, and how you can test your skills with this tactic.

What Is A Poisoned Pawn In Chess?

A poisoned pawn is a chess pawn that appears to be an easy target for the opponent, but in reality, capturing it will put the capturing player at a disadvantage. It is a trap that is set to lure the opponent into making a mistake, which the other player can then exploit to their advantage.

The poisoned pawn is usually a pawn that is located on an open file, i.e., a file with no pawns blocking it. The idea is to entice the opponent to capture the pawn, which will then open up the file, allowing the other player’s pieces to enter and attack the opponent’s king.

Why Are Poisoned Pawns Important?

The poisoned pawn is an important tactic in chess because it can provide a significant advantage for the player who employs it. By luring the opponent into making a mistake, the other player can gain control of the board and initiate a successful attack on the opponent’s king.

Moreover, the poisoned pawn can also be used as a distraction tactic. By setting up a poisoned pawn, the other player can divert the opponent’s attention from more important parts of the board, such as the player’s own king or other key pieces.

Test Your Skills

Now that you know what a poisoned pawn is and why it is important, you can test your skills by trying to identify examples of the tactic in actual games. Here is a famous example of a poisoned pawn trap:

In the game between Boris Spassky and David Bronstein in 1960, Spassky set up a poisoned pawn trap. He sacrificed a pawn on the b2 square, which Bronstein captured, thinking it was an easy target. However, this allowed Spassky’s queen and bishop to enter the game and launch a successful attack on Bronstein’s king, eventually leading to Spassky’s victory.


The poisoned pawn is a clever tactic in chess that can be used to trap and defeat opponents. By sacrificing a pawn, players can gain control of the board and initiate a successful attack on the opponent’s king. It is important to be aware of this tactic and to use it wisely, as it can backfire if not executed correctly. So, keep your eyes open for poisoned pawn traps, and always think carefully before capturing a pawn in chess.

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