Georgian Chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili has hit Netflix with a $5 million defamation lawsuit over a line of dialogue that was featured in the popular Emmy-nominated series The Queen’s Gambit.
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As detailed in the lawsuit, the line in question is uttered during the series finale when a radio commentator describes Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) to his listeners and compares the character to Gaprindashvili.
“Elizabeth Harmon’s not at all an important player by their standards,” says the fictional commentator, adding, “The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex. And even that’s not unique in Russia. There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”
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In 1978, Gaprindashvili became the first woman to be awarded the title of “Grandmaster” by the International Chess Federation (FIDE). During her career, the chess icon won several awards, including the Women’s Soviet Championship – which she actually won 5 times.
“Gaprindashvili is a pioneer of women’s chess and a much-loved icon in her native country of Georgia,” says the lawsuit of the chess champion. “Throughout her extraordinary career, she won many championships, beat some of the best male chess players in the world, and was the first woman in history to achieve the status of international chess grandmaster among men,” it continues.
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According to the lawsuit, The Queen’s Gambit not only falsely claimed that Gaprindashvili was a native Russian when she actually hails from the European country of Georgia, but also knowingly opted to spread misinformation regarding Gaprindashvili’s achievements in chess, including the false statement that she never faced men.
“The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling,” asserts the lawsuit. “By 1968, the year in which this episode is set, she had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game).”
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Graprindashvili’s legal team claims that the aforementioned facts “were well known to Netflix, both from the Novel which stated that she had ‘met all these Russian Grandmasters many times before’ and because it had hired two of the world’s leading chess authorities as consultants for the Series: the legendary Garry Kasparov, a Russian former world champion, and American national master Bruce Pandolfini, considered to be America’s most experienced chess teacher and a consultant to Tevis when he wrote the Novel.”
Furthermore, the lawsuit accuses Netflix of deliberately lying about Gaprindashvili’s achievements “for the cheap and cynical purpose of ‘heightening the drama’ by making it appear that its fictional hero had managed to do what no other woman, including Gaprindashvili, had done.”
“Thus,” the defamation lawsuit elaborates, “in a story that was supposed to inspire women by showing a young woman competing with men at the highest levels of world chess, Netflix humiliated the one real woman trail blazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era.”
In response to the filing of the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Netflix issued a statement declaring, “Netflix has only the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career, but we believe this claim has no merit and will vigorously defend the case.”
What do you make of Nona Gaprindashvili’s recently filed $5 million defamation lawsuit against Netflix? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below or on social media.