A few months ago, at another e2e4 event, Peter told me a very funny story, of how one of his earliest trainers had "ruined the French Defence for me". In his youth, Peter was coached for a while by Cenek Kottnauer, a very strong Czech national and IM, who settled in this country in the late 1940s, and was for years one of our strongest players. Peter recalled that Kottnauer liked to play him games at rook odds. This was pushing his luck a bit, because by this time, Peter was already pretty strong, but despite this, Kottnauer initially managed to win a few games, even at such large odds. However, then Peter realised that this only ever happened when he answered 1.e4 with 1...e5. Soon, he started employing the French, keeping the position closed, after which Kottnauer's task became hopeless.
However, this had its long-term consequences. Peter explained that nowadays, every year or so, he feels he should give the French a go in serious games. The trouble is, as he put it, "...the positions never look so good without an extra rook!". In effect. Kottnauer ruined the opening for Peter! As a result, every time he thinks of taking up the opening, he ends up backing away.
I am pleased to be able to report, though, that he has finally overcome this psychological block, and played the opening successfully at Gatwick. If he decides to study it further, I can recommend the new book, The Modern French, by Yugoslavs Dejan Antic and Branimir Maksimovic. This excellent volume provides a French repertoire for Black, based around the MacCutcheon and the 3...Be7 Tarrasch. I had a small hand in its production, having been employed by publisher New in Chess, to tidy up the original English text. I was very impressed by the content, which is detailed, up to date, and has the right blend of variations and verbal explanation. You can order the book here.
Although the game does not feature in the book (the variation is not part of the book's repertoire), here is a French game, which has always been an inspiration in my own use of the opening (not that I ever produced anything remotely as good, of course!).