A parametric logical relation between the phrases of an Algol-like language is presented. Its definition involves the structural operational semantics of the language, but was inspired by recent denotationally-based work of O'Hearn and Reynolds on translating Algol into a predicatively polymorphic linear lambda calculus. The logical relation yields an applicative characterisation of contextual equivalence for the language and provides a useful (and complete) method for proving equivalences. Its utility is illustrated by giving simple and direct proofs of some contextual equivalences, including an interesting equivalence due to O'Hearn which hinges upon the undefinability of `snapback' operations (and which goes beyond the standard suite of `Meyer-Sieber' examples). Whilst some of the mathematical intricacies of denotational semantics are avoided, the hard work in this operational approach lies in establishing the `fundamental property' for the logical relation---the proof of which makes use of a compactness property of fixpoint recursion with respect to evaluation of phrases. But once this property has been established, the logical relation provides a verification method with an attractively low mathematical overhead.