Amar Opening (Ammonia Attack) – 1.Nh3

Amar Opening (Ammonia Attack) - 1.Nh3

The Amar Opening, also known as the Ammonia Attack (1.Nh3), is a relatively unconventional opening move in the game of chess.

Despite its rarity and questionable reputation, the Amar Opening has intrigued chess enthusiasts and theoretical chess enthusiasts alike.

Let’s take a look.

Move Order of the Amar Opening

The Amar Opening, or the Ammonia Attack, starts with the unusual knight move 1.Nh3.

Amar Opening (Ammonia Attack) - 1.Nh3

This opening is named after the French player Maurice Amar who championed it.

In contrast to more traditional openings, this move develops the knight to the edge of the board instead of towards the center.

This move is also in contrast to the conventional chess wisdom that pieces should be developed towards the center to control more squares and influence the game more strongly.

Theory, Strategy, and Purpose of 1.Nh3

The underlying idea behind the Amar Opening is to surprise the opponent and possibly take them out of their preparation.

It’s a provocative strategy that can lead to unique and uncharted positions on the board.

The 1.Nh3 move does not immediately fight for the center control, a strategy usually adopted by most chess openings.

Rather, the knight aims to reposition itself to f2, where it can then help in controlling the center.

The intent is to challenge conventional chess principles and lure the opponent into less familiar territory.

This unconventional approach can confuse an unsuspecting opponent and may lead to them making mistakes.

Variations of 1.Nh3

The Amar Opening is flexible and allows for several follow-up strategies.

After the initial move 1.Nh3, one common strategy is to continue with 2.g3, intending to fianchetto the bishop on g2.

Another common response is 2.d4 to seize control of the center.

The King’s Fianchetto Variation is a common line with the move order 1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5.

Here, white plans to fianchetto the bishop to leverage long diagonal control.

Learn the Amar Opening (1.Nh3!?) in chess

Evaluation of 1.Nh3

1.h4 is generally evaluated around -0.60 for white.

We rate it as the #17 of 20 for best opening chess moves.

Theory & Continuation Lines of 1.Nh3

Some theory and continuation lines and variations following 1.h4 include:

1… d5 2. d4 Bxh3 3. gxh3 e6 4. c4 

1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nf4 Nc6 4. Nc3 Bf5 5. e3 Qd7 6. Be2 h5 7. Nd3 e6 8. O-O h4 9. a3 Bd6 10. b4 Ne7 11. Nc5 

1… e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qa4 Nf6 5. g3 d5 6. Nf4 Bc5 

1… e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qd1 d5 5. Nf4 Nf6 6. g3 Ne5 7. Bg2 c6 8. O-O 

1… e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qd1 d5 5. Nf4 Nf6 6. g3 Ne5 7. Bg2 c6 8. Nd3 Bd6 9. O-O 

1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nf4 c5 4. e3 Nc6 5. Be2 e6 6. O-O a6 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. c4 O-O 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Nc3 d4 11. exd4 Bxd4 12. Be3 

Generally, the best response to 1.h4 is 1… d5 or 1… e5 to help black’s central control.

History of the Ammonia Attack

The Amar Opening is named after Maurice Amar, a French player who played it in the 1930s.

It is also sometimes known as the Paris Opening.

Despite its long history, it has never gained widespread acceptance among top-level players, primarily due to its deviation from the conventional principles of chess opening theory.

However, the Amar Opening remains a notable part of the historical repertoire of chess, offering a testament to the game’s breadth and depth, and to the room it provides for creative and unconventional play.

Whether 1.Nh3 Good for Beginners or Intermediates

The Amar Opening could be an interesting option for beginners and intermediate players to explore, primarily because of its surprise value.

However, it’s not necessarily recommended as a mainstay opening because it defies many fundamental chess principles.

Learning conventional openings that develop pieces towards the center of the board and directly fight for control of the center squares is typically more beneficial for less experienced players, as it instills good habits and principles of play.

For intermediate players, exploring the Amar Opening could serve as an exercise in understanding and challenging the principles of chess.

How Often 1.Nh3 Is Played at the Grandmaster Level

The Amar Opening is seldom seen in grandmaster play.

The principles of traditional chess theory, such as controlling the center early and not developing the knight to the edge of the board, are deeply ingrained in high-level chess.

However, the Amar Opening is not entirely absent from grandmaster play.

It can occasionally be used as a surprise weapon, especially in rapid or blitz games where the opponent has less time to think and respond appropriately.

Amar Opening (Ammonia Attack) – 1.Nh3 FAQ

What is the Amar Opening?

The Amar Opening, also referred to as the Ammonia Attack, is a rarely seen opening in chess. It starts with the move 1. Nh3.

This opening is known for its unconventional first move, which directly contradicts the common principle of controlling the center squares early in the game.

Why is the Amar Opening also called the Ammonia Attack?

The Amar Opening got its nickname, the Ammonia Attack, based on its notation Nh3. Ammonia is NH4 in chemical parlance.

This is a form of chess humor and doesn’t have any particular significance in terms of strategy or play.

Who invented the Amar Opening?

The Amar Opening is named after French amateur chess player Amar, who used this opening in Paris in the early 1930s.

The origins of the opening and its first appearance in high-level play aren’t thoroughly documented.

Why is 1.Nh3 considered a weak opening move?

The move 1.Nh3 is considered weak because it contradicts several fundamental chess principles.

For one, it doesn’t control the center, which is typically the main objective in the opening.

Second, it moves a knight to the edge of the board, limiting its mobility.

In general, knights are most effective when they are positioned towards the center of the board.

Are there any advantages to playing the Amar Opening?

The primary advantage of the Amar Opening is the element of surprise.

Many players aren’t familiar with this unconventional opening, so they may not know the best way to respond.

This could lead to mistakes or overthinking, which the player using the Amar Opening can potentially exploit. However, this is generally more effective at lower levels of play.

Can the Amar Opening lead to a winning position?

While any opening has the potential to lead to a winning position if your opponent makes mistakes, the Amar Opening is not generally seen as providing a strong advantage for the player using it.

It fails to control the center and doesn’t develop the pieces in an optimal way.

However, with skillful play and good understanding of middle-game and end-game strategies, it’s possible to secure a win.

Are there any well-known games where the Amar Opening has been used successfully?

The Amar Opening is rarely used in high-level competitive play, so there aren’t many famous games featuring it.

However, some amateur games have seen successful utilization of this opening.

Its rarity at the professional level is a testament to its unconventional and generally less effective nature compared to other more common openings.

How should Black respond to the Amar Opening?

Black has several options for responding to the Amar Opening.

Since 1.Nh3 doesn’t contest the center, Black can choose to occupy the center with moves like 1…d5 or 1…e5.

Developing pieces to control the center and aiming for rapid development and kingside castling is also a sound strategy.

How can I practice the Amar Opening?

You can practice the Amar Opening by incorporating it into your games, particularly in casual or online games.

It can also be useful to analyze games where this opening was used.

This is a less common opening, so resources and references may be limited compared to other openings.

Are there any variants to the Amar Opening?

The Amar Opening is fairly straightforward with the knight move 1.Nh3.

However, it can transpose into different setups depending on how your opponent responds and


The Amar Opening, or the Ammonia Attack, showcases the incredible breadth of chess, with its potential for creativity, surprise, and unconventional play.

While it’s not typically recommended as an opening, it can be a good way to take your opponent out of their preparation and lead to more creative games.


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