Georgian female chess Grand Master Nana Ioseliani runs in nature – she’s doing this in one of those Soviet archive newsreels. There are pros and cons in living as a woman during the Soviet era. There are times when woman can have opportunities but also face situations that expose their vulnerabilities. The documentary about Ioseliani and three other female chess Grand Masters, Glory to the Queen, doesn’t really adrress these vulnerabilities. But these archives still show the microaggressions that the Soviet patriarchal society subjects them to. These reels show that they are able women but innocently serving a higher Soviet cause.
I am, perhaps, projecting a few things to the footage because of Glory to the Queen‘s softball approach but to the documentary’s credit, it has nuances in approaching its subjects. The other three grand chess masters are Nona Gaprindashvili, Nana Alexandria, and Maia Chiburdanidze. These four women are in the same level as more famous male chess players like Bobby Fischer and Gary Kasparov, but they’re relatively obscure figures to people who aren’t into chess. They played feminine roles in their respective newsreels and kinda play ‘feminine’ roles during the documentary’s present day of 2018-2019.
In fairness to Glory to the Queen, it frames The Grand Masters’ present these activites more positively. They still play their favourite game, sharp as ever. Althoughthere are a few things that Glory to the Queen does that feel like substitutes for what it should be doing. Directors Tatia Skhirtladze and Anna Khazaradze could have asked the Grand Masters things about how they felt about competing with each other. Or whether or not they formed a bond. But instead, it shows that parents named baby girls with the same names as the Grand Masters. These scenes do their best to show the Grand Masters’ continuing legacy.
The German narration in Glory to the Queen also doesn’t work. In fairness to the documentary, those baby girls turn into women, the same age as me who have their own dreams that they work on even if their faces reveal the hurdles they also face. There are also moments in the documentary that make it worthwhile. There’s archive footage when young Isoleliani plays chess with a few older men and one asks why she skips him. She shyly tells him that he’s mated ten moves ago, gently putting him in his place. Other interviewees also discuss the good things that these women do with their fame and positions within the SSRs because they ruled their republics with grace.
Watch Glory to the Queen on OVID.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Documentary
- Directed by: Anna Khazaradze, Tatia Skhirtladze
- Studio: 1991 Productions, Playground Produkcija