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On November 9, 1970, an American whirlwind named Bobby Fischer it stoked the coasts of Palma de Mallorca. His objective was the Interzonal Tournament of Spain, the last step before entering the World Chess Championship, which he would end up overwhelming. Now, half a century after the event that shocked the entire 64-cell universe, a second vortex shakes the board.

Is about Lady’s Gambit, the most successful miniseries in Netflix history, released just fifty years after Fischer’s arrival in Mallorca. It took 28 days for its seven episodes to become a worldwide phenomenon and elevate its leading actress, the winner of the Golden Globe. Anya Taylor-Joy (nineteen ninety six). Your character, Beth Harmond, is without question a transcript of that American whirlwind of the 70s, but its ties with Spain are much more rooted than a simple tournament. In chess terms it would be more in the opening, the same that gives its name to the series with which it has achieved fame.

His name is Russian; his last name, Scottish; His place of birth is the United States and his nationality is Argentine, but among all this amalgam of cultures there is one that is not so visible to the naked eye: Spanish roots. In this case, as you can guess, the actress’s family tree is characterized by ancestors with restless asses.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmond in ‘Lady’s Gambit’.

However, for a part of Anya’s family everything begins and ends in Zaragoza by her grandmother, Montserrat, who was born, fled and returned to the Aragonese capital after more than half a life traveling the world. It is still there. Also the family store that runs, a popular outlet of electrical appliances in the old town that bears the name of Morancho, a surname that does not sound as exotic as “Taylor-Joy” but that reminds the actress of where it all began.

The grandmother of Zaragoza

Although he was born in Catalonia, Montserrat Morancho Saumench (Barcelona, ​​1931) remembers very little of his childhood on the Mediterranean coast. She had to see the world in a complicated decade, at the dawn of the Second Republic and in the early days of a Civil War that ended up separating her from her land. As soon as the first sound of sabers was heard, she and her brother Angel fled to Aragonese lands in search of some peace. It seems they found it, and there they settled. He became a civil engineer. She married an Englishman. And the pieces began to move.

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The Morancho store, in Zaragoza.

The Morancho store, in Zaragoza.

The lucky one was David Joy (1932-2019), a British Crown Civil Service officer who traveled extensively for work reasons. Montserrat accepted the challenge and embarked with him on the adventure, one of those of spending a couple of years in one place, never settling down and changing his life again. And boy did he adapt.

Their first destination as a couple was the embassy in Northern Rhodesia, then a British colony, where they resided between 1956 and 1970. In between, in 1964, the country proclaimed its independence from the Crown and was renamed Zambia, as it is known today. Thus, the change of name was not the only one that the Morancho-Joy couple experienced in those years, who experienced the arrival of a new member of the family. It was about Jennifer Joy, the one who would later become Anya’s mother.

Anya Taylor-Joy and her mother, Jennifer Joy.

Anya Taylor-Joy and her mother, Jennifer Joy.


But the world was not going to stop turning by the birth of the little girl. In 1970 David became a diplomat, and with the promotion, the trio repackaged everything. In just twenty years they passed through the embassies of Venezuela, Mexico, Poland, Honduras, El Salvador and Argentina, where Joy played an important role in the negotiations prior to the Malvinas War, according to a declassified document from the British Government to which EL ESPAÑOL has had access. Even so, Montserrat always waited for the return home. He did it in 1989, when the Joy-Morancho family returned to Spain. That day, for the first time in his life, they unpacked and put them in the attic.

It was also the year of retirement for David Joy, then Consul General, and his wife, Montserrat, after more than forty years of movement. Thus, after having surfed the entire board, they decided on a square. The first. They chose to return to her house, to Zaragoza, and became part of the family business: the appliance store Morancho, in the heart of the old town of the Aragonese capital, which is still open today.

David Joy, Anya Taylor-Joy's grandfather, in a declassified British Government document prior to the Falklands War.

David Joy, Anya Taylor-Joy’s grandfather, in a declassified British Government document prior to the Falklands War.

Anya’s childhood

If you ask Anya Taylor-Joy about the ancestry of her parents, the answer does not leave you indifferent. From him, the former banker and champion of regattas Dennis Taylor, he will say that he is Scottish-Argentine. From her, the photographer and interior designer Jennifer Joy, who is “African-Spanish”, because of being born in Zambia but having matured in Spain. And, despite everything, family members are not the actress’s only links with Spain.

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An Adidas sticker featuring Dennis Taylor, former banker and race champion.

An Adidas sticker featuring Dennis Taylor, former banker and race champion.

Although she was born in Miami as the youngest of six siblings – four from a previous marriage – Anya lived up to six years in Buenos Aires, when his father was a leader of the Argentine-British Chamber of Commerce (CCAB). At that time he attended the prestigious Northlands School for a triennium, the same center where Máxima, Queen of the Netherlands, studied and Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo, aristocrat and former deputy of the Popular Party in the Congress of Deputies.

Spanish, who speaks with a marked Argentine accent, is therefore his mother tongue, and a lot. It is so much so that when the family, faced with the country’s abrupt crisis in 2001, decided to move to London, Anya He refused to speak English. The idea of ​​the child, in a typical outburst of childhood, was to revolt against their parents and force them to return to Buenos Aires. It was his first castling. And at the same time his first gambit. But it didn’t work out.

Since then he has come to Spain repeatedly, either for work or to visit Grandmother Montserrat and the Morancho family. One of the last times was in 2017, when he temporarily settled between Asturias and Terrassa (Barcelona) to shoot Marrowbone’s Secret, one of his first films.

Anya Taylor-Joy, during her childhood in Buenos Aires.

Anya Taylor-Joy, during her childhood in Buenos Aires.


“I would love to shoot in Spain again. I fell in love with that country while shooting Marrowbone and I felt that there I had left part of me. My grandparents are from Zaragoza and it was like going back to roots that I didn’t know I had, “the actress confessed in an interview with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in connection with the Golden Globes. In this last edition of 2021 she has won one, the first, only 24. For her, the game has only just begun, but it has started well.

1. d4 d5
2. c4

They play black.

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