The Pawn

Lue Jun Yi
4 min readNov 8, 2020


Once a pawn always a pawn, until you make it to the other end.

What is the least valuable piece in a chess set? The most common assignment of point value system esteems the pawn at one point, a far cry of the queen’s score of nine. It’s common knowledge that the pawn is perhaps the weakest piece in the chess game, hence the assigned number. Why wouldn’t it be? If quantity reflects the quality — the lesser the amount, the more valuable it is — the pawn is miles behind. Even if all the eight pawns decide to gang up together, they are still one point short of the queen.

The positioning of the pawn reflects its value significantly as well. Forming the frontline of all the pieces, they are the first ones ready to be sacrificed. Any player will be more willing to sacrifice a pawn, more than any other piece. Owh, the insignificance of a pawn when it’s given freely! How about the limitation of movements? A queen moves horizontally, vertically, diagonally at any number of boxes at any time. The rook is allowed horizontal and vertical moves, while the bishop diagonally, but still at any distance they wish. The knight, the most unique one of all, gets L-shape directions. The pawn? Only a step forward. With grace, two steps on your first move. Isn’t it clear that the pawn is indeed the weakest and least valuable piece of a chess game?

Here’s where I stop the train of thoughts to prove you wrong.

First, the pawn forms the frontline. In other words, the defense. Have you seen any player move all his/her pawns up on the first stance? Not even Beth Harmon in the Queen’s Gambit does it. You don’t do it because you’ll leave the backline exposed and vulnerable. A smiling opponent waiting to prowl like a lion, ever thankful to attack. They might not be attacking-minded, but a good strategy does not consist of attacking only. Using the analogy of a different sport, the great football manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “Attack wins you games, but defense wins you titles.”

Secondly, a pawn is ever willing to sacrifice himself. A pawn lost for a battle won. They are the most courageous ones, the bravest lots, and the most loyal soldiers. To sacrifice oneself for a better cause speaks nothing but faithfulness of the highest kind to the long term goal, to win. Here you have, though not the most powerful piece, but the one that’s first to raise his hand, one you couldn’t find in any other. I present to you, the most faithful Sir Pawn.

And if you ever noticed, there are two characteristics found in a pawn that are in no other.

A pawn only moves forward. A queen has the free pass to motion front and back. A rook retreats when being attacked. A bishop swirls up and down. A knight gallops in random directions. But the pawn, he only steps forward. Even with the risk of death, he marches forward. He never ever in a battle withdraws backwards. Talk about being single-focused, unswerving commitment, unyielding vision and uncompromisable mission. And he treads forward with one goal in mind, to reach the other end of the battleline.

Because unlike no other piece, a pawn can be transformed. A promotion, you may call it. A queen remains the pompous queen throughout the battle. The rook stands its shape as big as ever. A knight stays on his horse. A bishop can forget about being the pope. They endure their roles until they die. But a pawn? “Neh, boring. I’m different,” he said. A pawn can be changed into any other piece upon reaching the other end. Anything, even a queen? You bet. How about the king? Don’t go overboard.

A pawn will never exist as a pawn forever. The due reward for his faithful courage, willingly standing his line, and forcefully moving forward in the thick and thin of the battle. Towards the end of the battle, you’ll begin to see the importance of the pawn. When every other piece falls along the way, the player tries to keep his pawns in the combat, striding them forward until the end. Because he knows one thing, a pawn can metamorphosize like a butterfly. And what a change it can do to the contest. The one who seemed the weakest at the beginning, is now the strongest.

Once a pawn always a pawn, until you make it to the other end.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

A Christian Response:

Which one do you want to be? The prestigious queen? The rugged rook? The handsome knight? The cunning bishop? Or the lowly pawn? I know what I want to be.

A piece that guards the gospel and defends the very cause of my life. To form the defense line of the Christian faith. (2 Timothy 1:8–14)

A piece ever faithful, ever loyal. To be able to share in the suffering, to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3–7)

A piece that moves forward. To stand firm in Scripture in perseverance against the grains of the world. (2 Timothy 3:14–17)

A piece with a goal in mind — to reach the end. To complete the Christian calling as I run the marathon journey of life. (2 Timothy 4:6–8)

A piece that one day will be transformed in God’s glory.

A piece that says: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)