Manuel Alvarez Escudero: Playing, And Winning, At 100 Years Old
Manuel Alvarez Escudero competes in his most recent tournament. Photo: FIDE via Facebook.

Manuel Alvarez Escudero: Playing, And Winning, At 100 Years Old

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Written By Ray Linville

What chess player inspires you? For some of us, it’s not GM Magnus Carlsen or GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who will compete in the 2021 FIDE World Championship of Chess beginning next month. It’s not even a titled player who has amassed hordes of followers to his stream such as GM Hikaru Nakamura

For many of us, an inspiring chess player endures the challenges of life and still competes on the chessboard—and wins. No one has achieved this stature better than Manuel Alvarez Escudero, who celebrates his 100th birthday on October 12, 2021, and is still a competitive chess player.

Medal for Manuel Álvarez Escudero
A special medal acknowledges Alvarez as a chess-playing centenarian. Photo: FIDE via Facebook.

Tournament Play

Several weeks ago Alvarez participated in the XXXVIII San Lorenzo de El Escorial Tournament (incidentally, the site of the final of the 1991-93 Candidates Tournament in January 1993) in the Community of Madrid, Spain. At the time he was 99, and he won the veterans category and finished 16th out of 64 players.

Manuel Álvarez Escudero celebrates tournament success.
Alvarez celebrates tournament success with young players. Photo: FIDE via Facebook.

When asked about his goals in chess, Alvarez responded: “The main objective always has been to have fun and make friends.”

The main objective always has been to have fun and make friends.
—Manuel Alvarez Escudero, a winning centenarian

Born in 1921, Alvarez serves as an inspiration to all of us—old and young. See his FIDE profile here. Consider one of his impressive wins several years ago against a highly-rated player. Could you play so well?

Learning Game Of Chess

According to Lidia Martin, a granddaughter, Alvarez was taught how to play chess by an older brother. She said: “His brother told him how to move the chess pieces. After a year, my grandpa was already beating his brother. He thought he already knew how to play. It was at that moment when he decided to join the Alfil club. After his first day there, he realized he only knew how to move the pieces but nothing else.”

At the club, Alvarez learned more about chess and improved his play. In Spain, he has also been active in the La Didactica chess club and still attends activities of the Moratalaz club in a district of Madrid.

Jose Luis Alvarez Luis and Manuel Álvarez Escudero
Jose Luis Alvarez Luis, tournament director in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, with Manuel Alvarez Escudero. Photo: Jose Luis Alvarez Luis via Facebook.

Favorite Moments 

Over Alvarez's long and distinguished playing career, he has had several favorite reminiscences. About tournaments, he said, “The best tournament was the one organized by the University of Oviedo [in 1992] in which many great players participated such as GM Boris Spassky."

Martin added: “One of his favorite moments was when being in Guadalajara he attended a tournament in which five Olympic Cuban players were going to participate. He finished in sixth place.” One player Alvarez beat was GM Jesus Nogueiras Santiago, a World Championship Candidate in 1985. (FM Eduardo Serrano adds that the victory occurred in 1994 before the Moscow Olympiad, and a record of the moves in that game is not available.)

Manuel Álvarez Escudero with prize winners in San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Alvarez celebrates with other prize winners (foreground) in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Photo: FIDE via Facebook.

For tournament play does Alvarez have any special preparation? According to his granddaughter, “He doesn’t prepare at all. He has never studied chess, and every single book he has won, he has given as a present straight away.”

Next Event

Although Alvarez’s successes have been celebrated online by the chess community, he's not content to rest on his laurels. His granddaughter said that he will be playing in his next rated tournament in a few weeks in Altea, Spain. Incidentally, he has been playing in tournaments since he was 22.

Is Alvarez the oldest winning chess player who is still active? What legacy players in other countries are similarly inspiring? Please let us know in the comments below!

Ray Linville

My goal: to enjoy chess every day! As a "top blogger" at, I hope you find my blog (which has received the "best chess blog" award from Chess Journalists of America) informative and entertaining. Please follow it. I am in awe at what the team has built and continues to improve. Because I have been playing chess for more than six decades, I wish that it had been available when I started. 

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