Durkin Opening

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Durkin Opening
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
Moves 1.Na3
Named after Robert T Durkin
Parent Irregular chess opening
Synonym(s) Durkin Attack
Sodium Attack

The Durkin Opening (also known as the Durkin Attack or the Sodium Attack) is a rarely played chess opening beginning with the move:

1. Na3

The Durkin Opening is named for Robert T Durkin (1923–?) of New Jersey. The name "Sodium Attack" (used by Eric Schiller in Unorthodox Chess Openings) comes from the algebraic notation 1.Na3, as Na is the chemical symbol for the element sodium.


This awkward development of the queen's knight does little to utilize White's advantage of the first move. From a3 the knight does not influence the center or possess much activity. It is likely that White will move this knight again soon, perhaps by playing c4 and either recapturing on c4 (e.g. 1...d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nxc4) or playing Nc2. If this is White's plan, it is stronger to play 1.c4 (the English Opening). As such, this opening is probably most valuable as a way to avoid opening preparation. On the other hand, there are better ways to avoid an opponent's opening preparation, for example by developing the b1-knight to c3.

See also[edit]


  • Hooper, David and Kenneth Whyld. "Durkin Opening." Oxford Companion to Chess. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. 117.
  • Dunnington, Angus (2000). Winning Unorthodox Openings. Everyman Chess. ISBN 978-1-85744-285-4.
  • Eric Schiller (2002). Unorthodox Chess Openings (Second ed.). Cardoza. p. 454. ISBN 1-58042-072-9.
  • Benjamin, Joel; Schiller, Eric (1987). "Durkin Attack". Unorthodox Openings. Macmillan Publishing Company. pp. 103–04. ISBN 0-02-016590-0.
  • Durkin, Robert (1959). N-QR3!, a new opening : the Durkin attack.