Don Manuel Álvarez Escudero is one of the oldest active players on the planet. He has once told his secrets: “Don’t smoke, don’t drink wine, go to the doctor and the others a little, as much as possible.” Hispanic Day will be 101 years old. This Wednesday, the ‘honour kick-off’ of the Candidates tournament was held at the Palacio de Santoña in Madrid, which decides which grandmaster will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the world title in 2023.

Manuel Álvarez, a chess hero from Madrid, opened the game between the two youngest in the tournament, Alireza Firouzja (France, 19 years old) and Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland, 24). It was the shortest game of the fifth round.

The guest of honor had to fly by. In the morning, she played a friendly game with tournament director Dana Reizniece-Ozola, who is also Latvia’s Minister of Economy and a female grandmaster. At that table there was experience and wisdom to distribute at the doors of the schools.

The two children (today they can be called that) have not been able to show their potential until now and they signed a draw after 36 moves. The Russian defense chosen by the Pole, perhaps not very correct from the political point of view, seemed like an invitation to a draw, which Firouzja had no problem accepting. He followed the old rule of drawing after a loss, before allowing a bloodletting.

Faster still was the armistice between Fabiano Caruana (United States, 29) and Richard Rapport (Hungary, 26). It cannot be said that the game was not interesting, with a pawn race on both sides, but on move 24 the draw was reached by triple repetition of moves at a point where anyone who tried another alternative would end up losing.

The disappointment of the day went to Hikaru Nakamura (United States, 34), who had the leader, the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi (31), on the ropes. He’s on a roll, he’s not having the slightest wear and tear over the duration of his games and when necessary he escapes like Houdini from sticky situations. He begins to have a favorite face that is even scary. Today, his lady walked too happy, if you can say that without sounding chauvinistic, in another Russian defense, in this case justified. They were drawn in just 34 moves, also by repetition. The tweet below proves that he didn’t end up too happy. He wasted a magnificent opportunity to improve positions.

In the last game of the day, Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan, 35) confirmed his status as the official sufferer of the tournament. Not even with white lives calmly. We had already warned of the danger that Ding Liren (China, 29) poses for his rivals, but chess remains an enigma.

On move 40, just before the next injection of minutes on the clock, he had to decide with very little time the only way to stay ahead. Tournaments are decided in moments like this. After four hours of almost perfect play, an inaccuracy is enough to throw a game. He did it! Thus equality was restored.

The game did indeed end in a draw after 50 moves. There were another four draws, a custom that begins to numb the tournament after the vibrant start we had. There is a lot of tournament left, but the missed opportunities weigh more and more. Today Nakamura and Ding Liren had them.

The classification is like this:

Nepomniachtchi: 3.5 points

Caruana: 3

Doubt, Rapport and Nakamura: 2.5

Ding Liren, Radjabov y Firouzja: 2