I generally play 1.Nf3 as white . I actually wonder whether there would be any major difference if I play 1.Na3 instead of 1.Nf3 . I am a novice player . An illustration will definitely help me in understanding the reason behind this.

  • 1
    Is there a typo here in that it should be 1.Nc3 not 1.Na3?
    – Allure
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 3:38

4 Answers 4


To answer your question:

Experience has shown that it is a good idea in the opening phase of the game to:

  • develop minor pieces (bishop/knight) quickly
  • and to occupy the centre (squares e4, d4, e5, d5 and thereabout) with pawns and/or to attack the centre with minor pieces

In this sense Nf3 is the better (and by far more popular) move. It attacks central squares (d4 and e5) and thereby prevents black from occupying the center with e5 immediately and potentially could also support a white pawn push to d4.

Na3 on the other hand does little to get hold of the center and in addition (as with any knight on the rim), it has fewer squares to go to: 4 instead of 8.

Occupying the center is important among others because it can:

  • limit the space of your opponent
  • allow pieces stationed around there to quickly reach other parts of the board as needed

For a novice player the first move(s) don't matter. It is highly unlikely that you win/lose a game because of the difference between 1. Nf3 and 1. Na3, rather because of some tactics later on. That's why it is recommend for beginners to focus on tactics first.

  • Please upvote my answer below if I am thinking in the right direction. I am a new player so it will really inspire me .
    – Akash Roy
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 2:27

1. Nf3 is used to instantly get a grip on the center. It for example answers 1. ... e5 with 2. Nxe5. 1. Na3 on the other hand, does not develop the piece towards the center, giving Black an easy opportunity to attempt to control the center. A better move would be 1. Nc3, still having control on the center.


Possibly with 1.Nf3 , player has the chance to transpose the game into a large number of other openings which usually start with 1.e4 , 1.d4 or 1.c4 . If Black is not careful, there is the risk of running unprepared, according to me, into a highly tactical opening, e.g. after 1.Nf3 c5 White can play 2.e4 leading to the Sicilian Defense (Mainline) . Other common transpositions are to various lines of the Queen's Gambit Declined (1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4) or the Catalan Opening (1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7 5.c4).

  • Please upvote if I am thinking in the right direction. I am a novice so it will help
    – Akash Roy
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 2:25
  • True in some sense, but hardly relevant for novice players. Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 14:10
  • I am talking about myself @user1583209 . I have built this theory and if I am thinking in right direction, it will be kind of you if you upvote . It can motivate me too.
    – Akash Roy
    Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 12:16

Statistics show that with 2200+ players Nf3 wins about 55.5% of the time with draws = 1/2 and win = 1 , loss = 0

And Na3 wins 68% of the time

But with 2400+ it goes to 55% 75% respectively

at 2600+ nobody plays Na3 and Nf3 drops to 54% winning


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