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The origin of this spectacular opening is more or less well known.  Tartakower played it at the beginning of this century and supposedly had the idea of the "b" climbing pawn after observing apes at the zoo.  But Tartakower never took this opening seriously.  Bugayev, a Russian master, also played it in matches and in a simultaneous game against Steinitz.  Also, Englisch and Schlechter played the Orangutan in games before Tartakower even dreamed of it!  All these players had opened a door that was to be entered by a young Russian master...

It is only after many excellent (but sadly many lost) analysis by Sokolsky and many of his correspondence trials (and even OTB games!) that this opening really got serious treatment. Sokolsky (and later Katalimov) produced the first serious study of this fantastic debut and even played it!

Nowadays, top players at the international level (OTB) almost never play it (except for Ljubojevic and Larsen in their early days) and the Orang Utan is usually used for its element of surprise.  The only known exception that I know is Gilles Mirallès (France champion) who played it for most of its career.  Besides these few trials in OTB games, the Orang Utan opening is mostly used in correspondence chess.

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Last updated 01-08-2003
Copyright Benoît St-Jean 2000-2003