Chess Terms
En Prise

En Prise

Every once in a while, we hear chess players saying something in another language. If you've ever come across the expression en prise and couldn't understand its meaning, don't worry! This article teaches you precisely what it means and why it's relevant to chess players.

What Does En Prise Mean In Chess?

En prise (pronounced roughly as "on preeze") is a French expression used in chess to describe the state of a piece under attack which the opponent can take with a material gain.

En prise in chess.
The black rook is en prise.

How To Identify Pieces En Prise

Identifying pieces that are en prise can be as simple as comparing how many attackers and defenders a piece has. Look at the position below:

The knight is en prise.
The c6-knight is en prise.

The black knight on c6 is attacked three times but defended just once. The knight is en prise since White can take it and win material.

White can win the knight that's en prise.
White can take the knight and win material.

Other times, identifying en prise pieces is a little harder and requires more acute tactical awareness. The following position comes from a game between an amateur named V. Goldfarb against former world champion Alexander Alekhine.

The h2-pawn is en prise.
It seems like all of White's pieces are protected, but the h2-pawn is en prise.

Alekhine realized that the h2-pawn was en prise since the white king wasn't able to protect it. Recapturing the h2-pawn with the king would allow Black to play 18...Qh4+ and win the c1-rook.

The h2-pawn is en prise because Black can employ a tactic.
The tactical continuation that would follow if White had captured the black bishop.

Improving your board awareness and your tactical skills is critical for identifying en prise pieces and taking advantage of them. You can start by watching this lesson by IM Danny Rensch on board awareness and practicing your tactics with our Puzzles.

Why Is Identifying Pieces En Prise Important?

Identifying pieces that are en prise is a critical skill for every chess player since it can prevent them from losing material. Not only that, but this ability can also help you win material when you realize that your opponent has left a piece up for grabs.

Take a look at the position below. It comes from a game between GM Alonso Zapata and former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand. Up to this point in the game, both players played book moves for Petrov's Defense.

White can put the black knight en prise.
The game started with Petrov's Defense.

It was in this position that Anand blundered and played 5...Bf5. Zapata instantly moved his queen to e2, putting an absolute pin on the knight.

Zapata puts the black knight en prise.
Zapata pinned the black knight to the king.

Anand resigned because he realized that his knight was en prise, and there was no way to save it.

The example above shows that even world champions are prone to leaving their pieces en prise. Being able to identify when that happens can help you win material and more games.

Test Your Skills

Now what you know what en prise pieces are and how to identify them, it's time to test your skills. Solve the puzzles below by taking advantage of hanging pieces.

Puzzle 1: White has just attacked your queen. Should you move your queen to safety, or can you find a better move?

Puzzle 2: Black has two pieces threatening your e2-knight while you have only your queen protecting it. Is your knight en prise, or has Black overlooked something?

Puzzle 3: Black is proposing a rook exchange. What should you do?


You now know what en prise means, how to identify pieces in that situation, and why that's important. Watch our lesson on hanging pieces to learn how to recognize when it's safe to capture a piece.

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