Polish Opening, also known as the Sokolsky Opening or the Orangutan, is an uncommon chess opening that begins with advancing the b-pawn two squares – 1. b4. It belongs to the irregular opening category, and has never been popular at the top level, though a number of prominent players have employed it occasionally, mostly as a psychological weapon. A russian master Alexey Pavlovich Sokolsky wrote a monograph on this opening in 1963, hence the name.
Why “Orangutan”, you may ask? Did somebody observe apes playing chess and accidentally touching the b-pawn? No, the answer is pretty prosaic, but still somehow funny. Polish chess grandmaster Savielly Tartakower, along with other participants of the New York 1924 chess tournament, visited the Bronx Zoo, and jokingly consulted an orangutan named Susan. Allegedly, she indicated that Tartakower should open the next game with b4. Tartakower also noted that the movement of the pawn to b5 reminded him of the orangutan climbing up a tree. Anyway, the game between Tartakower and Maróczy, played the next day, really started with this move, and the name “Orangutan Opening” was born.
Black usually lets White proceed with their queen-side pawn experiments, and focuses on claiming the center, which is never a bad idea. Of course, that’s not the only option there. Let’s analyze a game that started with a pawn sacrifice called the Birmingham Gambit.