Sokolsky Opening 1. b4 (A00)

The Sokolsky Opening (also known as the Orangutan or Polish) is an uncommon chess opening that begins with the move: 1. b4

According to various databases, out of the twenty possible first moves from White, the move 1.b4 ranks ninth in popularity. The opening has never been popular at the top level, though a number of prominent players have employed it on occasion (for example, Richard Réti against Abraham Speijer in Scheveningen 1923 and Boris Spassky against Vasily Smyslov in the 1960 Moscow–Leningrad match). Soviet player Alexei Pavlovich Sokolsky (1908–69) wrote a monograph on this opening in 1963: Debyut 1 b2–b4.

Perhaps its most famous use came in the game Tartakower versus Maróczy, in the New York 1924 chess tournament on March 21, 1924. The name "Orangutan Opening" originates from that game: the players visited the Bronx Zoo the previous day, where Tartakower consulted an orangutan named Susan, and she somehow indicated, Tartakower insisted, that he should open with b4. Also Tartakower noted that the climbing movement of the pawn to b5 reminded him of the orangutan. In that particular game, Tartakower came out of the opening with a decent position, but the game was drawn. Alekhine, who played in the tournament and wrote a book on it, said that 1.b4 was an odd move, and that the problem is that it reveals White’s intentions, before White knows what Black’s intentions are.