Talk:Durkin Opening

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Old talk[edit]

The Oxford Companion to Chess doesn't have much information on Robert Durkin, so I tried googling for him. All I could find is that according to one widely copied chess timeline created by Bill Wall, he was born on May 9, 1923 in Milwaukee. The Oxford Companion agrees with the birth year but places him in New Jersey, presumably where he live(s/d) as an adult.

On the Durkin Opening itself, Bill Wall says it is sometimes called the Sodium Attack from Na, the chemical symbol for sodium. (Wall's geocities site is frequently unavailable, so I got it from the google cache searching for cache: There is some google support for this amusing name, and apparently Eric Schiller's Unorthodox Chess Openings also mentions it. (I don't have Schiller's book, but you can search inside it at Quale 16:40, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Michael Amper <>: Durkin was a long-time member of the Ventnor Chess Club, which met at the Ventnor Public Library (or, possibly, Community Center) in Ventnor, NJ, just south of Atlantic City. My father, Rodolfo Ylaya Amper, MD, who at one time was a relatively highly-rated chess player, enjoyed many games with Mr. Durkin. I have a copy of a club photograph that was taken sometime in the 1970's which includes, my father, my brother, and myself (making a silly face), as well as Mr. Durkin, along with the members of the club. Unfortunately, some 30 years later, I cannot recall which of the people in the photograph is Mr. Durkin, but I do remember that Mr. Durkin was one of the best players in the club.

It would be interesting to get some games played by Mr. Durkin featuring this opening. (There are 3 at Chessbase ( In all three he answers 1...e5 with 2. Nc4, although he also played other moves.) (More at & you can find others online. mrh 5/6/14) Are there any records from the Ventnor Chess Club around? Is Mr. Durkin still alive? Cjpuffin 20:07, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC) --Durkin died several years ago. I had long been considering writing a new book on 1. Na3 & wanted to have read his; unfortunately, i could never find a copy. At once time i had an ad in Chess Life, & thought i was about to get one when i was answered from a correspondent in NJ who claimed to have it. But after a single exchange he never answered my letters. --graywyvern (PS i have collected a dozen or so of his games, & intend to make them available eventually, but too many other projects have intervened. I am, however, still playing 1. Na3 religiously at i now play at & i have discovered a copy of Knightmare-1, which i will eventually upload to archive dot org...)(5/23/14: it is here: )

Is it true that 1.Na3 is the most rarely played of all White's possible moves? 14:25, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
According to, it is. 18:14, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

Middle name[edit]

I changed the middle name from T. to James as is documented in the USCF records. The only Robert Durkin registered in New Jersey, where chess documentation claims Robert Durkin played, is listed as Robert James Durkin. According to USCF records, his last rated event was April 9, 2010. His rating appears to have ended down at 1651. I'm not sure if this extra information adds any extra details for the opening, but if we are going to list the middle name, we should use the one recorded.

The Robert E. Durkin mentioned on this talk page seems to be registered with a different ID in Wisconsin. Since other sources on chess mention the Durkin associated with the opening played in New Jersey, I believe the similar name is a coincidence. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Koor der (talkcontribs) 23:47, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

I think T. was probably correct. See for example [1]. Though it's a bit strange that the USCF doesn't have any record of a Robert T. Durkin in the relevant area. (But do their records actually go back far enough?) --Zundark (talk) 19:58, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Bio Info[edit]

The Social Security Death Index lists three Robert Durkins born in 1923, none of them on May 9 or in WI. It seems probable that he's still alive, since nearly everyone who lives and works in the USA for a long time gets social security death benefits. US Search ( lists 24 by that name around the right age, but none in NJ. I'll keep looking. Dynzmoar (talk) 12:57, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Robert E. Durkin, who was born in Milwaukee WI on May 9, 1923, was my stepfather. He died recently, on February 27, 2014. He was a very good chess player - I have seen press clippings of his winning citywide tournaments in Milwaukee as a teenager, and playing and beating six simultaneous opponents, while blindfolded. To my limited knowledge he did not have a specific opening named after him, and I don't know that he lived in New Jersey for any significant time. David J Grindrod (talk) 00:40, 21 March 2014 (UTC)David Grindrod

Schiller and his silly made-up names[edit]

I don't think there is any source for "Sodium Attack" before Schiller; it is proper to credit 1.Na3 to Durkin who played it often and published a short monograph on it. As for "Celadon Variation" and "Chenoboskian Variation", there are zero games in the databases with either "variation". Bloggers and posters can indulge Schiller and his silly made-up opening names if they want but wikipedia shouldn't. MaxBrowne (talk) 10:02, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

I agree. Schiller's invented names are a scourge. This isn't even among the worst examples—Reagan's Attack is obnoxious. I'm no fan of Ronald Reagan, but that's beyond stupid and Schiller's political insults aren't worthy of encyclopedic notice. Quale (talk) 02:50, 11 May 2016 (UTC)