Nona Gaprindashvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani are all world-class Georgian chess players. Their careers changed chess forever, and all four of them are still active teaching and playing chess. But even outside of that, they became feminist icons in Georgia and beyond.
Glory to the Queen tells the story of four very different women who happened to have the same knack for chess. Combining historical footage and current images, it tries to show what their achievements in chess meant to them, to the world, to women, especially the women of Georgia. Unfortunately it isn’t always as clear in its storytelling as it should have been.
I know next to nothing about the world of chess, so I came into the documentary an absolute beginner. And I’m not sure whether the film expected viewers to know a little more or whether it’s just not always very clear, but I had a bit of a hard time following the course of events.
Part of it is certainly due to the fact that three of the women have (basically) the same name – two Nanas, and a Nona – and I couldn’t always keep up with what Nana did what. But this is something the film should have made possible to follow. But it jumps around a little too much for that.
Mixed into the film are shots of young women who introduce themselves – they were all named after one of the players. This seems like a huge tribute – until it is mentioned in a half-sentence in passing that apparently there were rewards promised for people to name their children after the players and sometimes, officials even decided for the parents. This fact wanted more context thatn it got.
But despite those moments and some of the film’s nebulosity, it still manages to capture the charisma of these women – and it definitely pays overall to watch the documentary to get to know them.
Summarizing: nice, if a bit unclear.