The Squashing Frog

The Squashing Frog, a trivial dispute.

James Carpenter shares some of his experiences with the French Defence

August, a quiet dry month filled with contemplations of past glories and, yes, regrets. And, of course, Dave Shapland’s entertaining Travail Pursuit series of articles. As even the British Championships fade into the middle distance I find myself thinking of one such article, “Squashing the frog”, or the French defence. But, as a true devotee, I know the frog to be no helpless victim, but a stealthy predator merely waiting to spring, even the oft disparaged light squared bishop lurking like a coiled tongue to ensnare unwary prey. And so I felt I would share some of my recollections of this noble beast chasing down annoying flies.

James' own illustration of the Squashing Frog

James’ own illustration of the Squashing Frog (click to expand)

Speaking of which, 2004, and I’m freshly returned from university and playing against Adam Ismail (those were the days!). He plays down the advance, one of the few lines I’ve got anything much up my sleeve against in those days. The game flows in a lovely style culminating in a crunching combination and, although later examination reveals 2 parts enthusiasm of youth to 1 part good play, such was my style in those days.

Several years of faithful service to the frog later, I’m playing my first Open York congress (I think). It’s been pretty tough, with painful missed chances in the first two games, a bye, a desperate swindle on the Sunday morning that at least evoked the old masters, then in round 5 I get black against 1.e4, it turns out a Guimard and I’m in my element. Peter plays the main line and tempts me into an indiscrete line involving a pawn sacrifice that, however, puts immediate pressure upon white, and when he declines the critical line I’m able to swiftly swarm the king’s position and recover some pride. There’s intriguing parallels with the previous game, with a white knight on g4 being harassed and the light squared bishop sneaking out to play.

And so to my final game, one of my favourite memories I maybe should never have turned a silicon machine upon. It was my second season captaining York B and, feeling the need to lead from the front, I unleashed the frog. Specifically the slightly crazy Armenian variation, and although once again the play has more style than substance, fortune favoured the bold and I was able to get the full point and secure a draw for the team.

Hope you enjoy the games.

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One Response to “The Squashing Frog”

  1. Martin Carpenter

    Sep 29. 2015

    Hang on, you won a Sunday morning game at a congress? Wow :)

    Fun games. No need to be so strict on yourself!

    Reply to this comment

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