Can someone suggest good to great developments starting with the Sodium Attack Na3? I am currently using this opening for my games, but I cannot find a really powerful strategic development with this opening. Any previous games with this is also welcome, as well as some advice on development strategies.

  • 4
    That's maybe because it's not a sound opening?
    – Glorfindel
    Feb 7, 2017 at 6:01
  • but the chess.com site's record shows a ~66% advantage for white with this opening.
    – Lelouch
    Feb 7, 2017 at 6:08
  • 3
    check the sample size. Also, probably just strong players trolling weaker players. Feb 7, 2017 at 7:26
  • You might have heard the old expression "a knight on the rim is dim". If you look at classical openings like the Ruy Lopez or QGD you'll notice the knights are put on their more natural squares in harmony with the central pawns. If you want to improve your game focus on established openings which provide clear strategies to follow. You'll need to explore them a bit but you'll make more progress if you ignore junk like 1.Na3.
    – Joe
    Feb 7, 2017 at 14:43
  • 1
    You're really making a mistake playing this rubbish. Learn how to play mainline openings instead. Feb 14, 2017 at 12:10

4 Answers 4


The analysis below is without the aid of a computer or any resources, but are just my thoughts on an unconventional opening:

[FEN ""]

1. Na3 e5 {Black seizes the centre and has the option to play ...Bxa3} 2. b3 {White dissuades ...Bxa3 and plans to fianchetto the bishop later} d5 {Black gains more space to counter white's hypermodern plans} 3. c4 {White must challenge the black centre, and hopes for 3...dxc4 4. Nxc4} d4 {Black wants to retain the space advantage} 4. Nc2 {Preparing e3, Be2 and O-O} Nf6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. d3
  • 2
    After 4 ... Bb4+ you lose the knight on a3... Feb 7, 2017 at 11:42
  • @user1583209: Good point. I'd have to play 4. Nc2 before d3. Guess that's what I get for multi-tasking.
    – user1108
    Feb 7, 2017 at 11:45
  • Thanks for your suggestion, I'll work on working with and modifiying this strategy
    – Lelouch
    Feb 7, 2017 at 12:13
  • @Lelouch Why would you spend any time on this? What are you hoping for?
    – Tony Ennis
    Feb 7, 2017 at 12:37
  • Maybe a good strategic development, where i can bring the knight on a3 to the centre when required, while not disturbing my central pawn line initially. Basically, a non-central attack.
    – Lelouch
    Feb 7, 2017 at 12:40

Let's think this through.

Frankly, I think Na3 is a terrible opening move. But I'll play along with the concept for a moment because there is the germ of a useful lesson in this exercise.

Clearly, a3 is a poor spot for a knight - it can only attack four spaces, all of which are near the edge of the board - so this move must be to get the knight to a better square. c2 and c4 are the obvious candidates. From c2, the knight exerts pressure on d4, which isn't a bad thing. (In a lot of openings, d5 ends up being critical, which suggests that Na6 might have potential as an opening move for Black.) From c4, the knight pressures d6 and e5. You could imagine this move being paired with f4 or Bf4, along with Nf3, to put pressure deep into the Black center.

I seriously doubt that any of these ideas are really going to be effective over the board. But the exercise of looking at a move like this and thinking through how it might be turned to advantage is what every player should be doing every time his opponent makes a move. The moment your opponent lifts his fingers from his piece, you should run through just this sort of exercise. Try to figure out what sort of strategic ideas (as well as tactical) his move might support. To win consistently, it isn't enough to have a strategy. You have to be able to identify and counter your opponent's strategy as well.


Chess openings are characterized by a sequence of moves and a certain pawn structure in the center. This pawn structure is the major factor that determines the strategic ideas for the middlegame.

In your question you give a single move and in a comment you state that you do not want to disturb the central pawn line initially (for whatever reason..). As you can see from this, what you have here is not really an opening and therefore it is impossible to give you any specific strategic ideas without knowing your plan/setup for the center. Basically asking for strategic plans in the position after 1. Na3 is like asking for strategic plans in the initial position. All we can recommend are general opening principles in this case: fight for the center, develop pieces...

I agree with anybody else that 1. Na3 is not a good move. It is not going to lose immediately, but gives away the advantage you have playing white. Some reasons why it is a bad start for a game:

1 Na3 puts the knight on the rim where it has few squares. This is not in itself a bad idea, if it could go to some meaningful squares from there or if it could attack something from there. However playing this as the first move you cannot say whether it will be a good place for the knight in the future. If black is an experienced player he will try to take advantage of you committing your knight to such a square that early.

Let's see what future the knight could have from there. On b5 and c4 it could easily get kicked away by a pawn, which leaves c2, which is really only a useful square if you need to defend a pawn on d4 or if you want to push a pawn-break on d4. But do you know whether this will be the case?

A similar purpose you could achieve by moving the knight b1-c3-e2, which is a more flexible route with lots of alternative options, while for your knight on a3 most of the time the only possible path will be to c2.

Also note that in order to get to the semi-useful square of c2 you needed to move the knight twice so you lost a tempo.

As others I strongly recommend to play something more normal. Chess openings are very well analyzed and there is a reason that nobody is playing 1 Na3


Aka Durkin Opening. I would tend to agree with some of the negative comments re Na3 as the first move: Knights tend to be most effective when they have a stable central post ie are protected and cannot be kicked away by a pawn.

However, another way of looking at Na3 as a first move for White is that you are in effect playing as Black but with an extra move in hand. Playing a first move as white like a3 or h3 is like this too. In principle these moves as White cannot be bad as such but you may just be handing the initiative to Black.

But assuming you decide to try 1.Na3, if you can drive subsequent play so that the Na3 Knight can find a secure spot at c4 or c2 then the move may have the virtue of getting your opponent out of book early and also strengthen your centre.

Remember, Tony Miles played 1.....a6 as his first move with Black against Anatoly Karpov and beat him in a fine game! Karpov may even have been World Champ at the time.

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