A Georgian chess champion has launched a $5-million defamation lawsuit against Netflix over a line of dialogue referencing her in the chess-themed series “The Queen’s Gambit”.
Deadline reports that 80-year-old grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili is suing the streamer, charging the line referencing her by name was “sexist and belittling.”
The brief snippet of dialogue occurs during the climactic chess tournament in Moscow, where fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) competes. “The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex, and even that’s not unique in Russia,” says an announcer during the competition. “There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”
As the lawsuit details, “Gaprindashvili is a pioneer of women’s chess and a much-loved icon in her native country of Georgia. 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.”
In addition, the suit insists that the show’s claim that Gaprindashvili “has never faced men” is “manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling.”
In fact, the legal filing points out that by the year in which the finale is set, 1968, “she had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game), including at least 10 Grandmasters of that time, including Dragolyub Velimirovich, Svetozar Gligoric, Paul Keres, Bojan Kurajica, Boris Spassky, Viswanathan Anand and Mikhail Tal. The last three were also world champions during their careers.”
The suit continues by making a scathing observation. “Netflix brazenly and deliberately lied 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, 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,” the lawsuit reads.
“This arrogant refusal to take responsibility for its actions was shockingly tone-deaf, given the sexism and offensiveness of its lie,” the suit adds, while also pointing out that Gaprindashvili is Georgian and not Russian, asking to have that line referencing altered to reflect her genuine heritage.
Netflix issued a dismissive response. “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,” a Netflix spokesperson stated.