‘The Queen’s Gambit’ wins 2021 Emmy for limited series

That’s checkmate for “The Queen’s Gambit.”

Netflix’s hit period chess show claimed the top prize for limited series at the 2021 Emmy Awards on Sunday.

Created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott, “The Queen’s Gambit” stars Anya Taylor-Joy as orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon. The acclaimed series follows Harmon and her journey to the top of the competitive chess world amid struggles, including drug and alcohol addiction.

“The one thing that no algorithm can predict, that no billion-dollar budget can manufacture, is word of mouth,” executive producer William Horberg said onstage. “This award is for the fans who told their friends, and who became fans who told their friends, ‘Dude, you got to watch the orphan girl chess drama.’”

Addressing Taylor-Joy, Horberg added, “What can I say? You brought the sexy back to chess, and you inspired a whole generation of girls and young women to realize that patriarchy has no defense against our queens.”

Considered one of this year’s most competitive Emmy fields, the limited or anthology series nominees also included “I May Destroy You,” “Mare of Easttown,” “The Underground Railroad” and “WandaVision.”

“The Queen’s Gambit” earned 18 nods when nominations were announced in July. The series started its run to the top prize at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards, where it scored nine wins for its casting, cinematography, period costumes, editing, period makeup (nonprosthetic), original dramatic score, sound editing, sound mixing and production design.

“Just the sheer range in the demographics of ages of people coming up and saying that they loved the show — from people in their 80s saying it was the first show they ever binge-watched to teenagers saying they were going to go play the hot guy at their school at chess,” Taylor-Joy said in the pressroom of the series’ popularity. “That was pretty spectacular.”

The series was also in the headlines Thursday when chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili sued Netflix for $5 million over what she considered her “grossly sexist” portrayal on the show.

This momentum carried over into Sunday’s telecast, where “The Queen’s Gambit” cast and crew were nominated in six of the major categories. Earlier in the evening, Frank won the award for directing.

“The Queen’s Gambit’s” Emmy haul adds to prior accolades, including a 2021 Golden Globe Award for limited series or TV movie as well as various guild awards. Taylor-Joy has also won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of Beth on the show.

Times staff writer Yvonne Villarreal also contributed to this report.

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