Thursday, July 26, 2007

From the left bank of the Seine

At the club, my friend Walter Driscoll and I have a running joke about his years of futility in trying to beat me as White playing against the French Defense. Over the decades, we've played many games and all but once "0-1" has been recorded at the end. He's tried the Classical, Tarrasch, Advance and his current choice, the Exchange, but to no avail. Things have reached a point where before rounds on Thursday nights, Walter can often be heard muttering things like "The French is the refutation to 1.e4" and "DG is unbeatable when playing black." Of course, there are plenty of people around the club who would be happy to produce game scores disproving the second point. To add fuel to the fire, I'll usually add something like, "Well, according to John Watson, after 1.e4 e6!, White is struggling for equality."

The one French I didn't win against Walter? I'd read a Secrets of Opening Surprises article in NewInChess about playing an early h6 as Black in the French and wanted to experiment with it. Well, I thought, playing it against Walter probably wouldn't be that risky. However, after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 h6!?, he went on to crush me. After the game I joked, "I'm never going to try that again. I mean, if I can't beat you with this line, then who could I possibly beat with it." We both had quite a chuckle.

It was a couple of recent blog posts which led me to share this story. The first, from the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club, offers a simple four point plan for defeating the French. I offer it to Walter as good advice, though I'm not feeling nervous (yet). The second is a mere mention in Tempo's Countdown to Dieren post where he says that he needs to "Learn a new system against the French." I bet Walter will have an idea or two for him.

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