First Female Chess Grandmaster Sues Netflix Over ‘Queen’s Gambit’ and ‘Devastating Falsehood’

Chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili claims the Emmy-nominated series "brazenly and deliberately lied" about her career.
"The Queen's Gambit"
"The Queen's Gambit"

The Queen’s Gambit” is heading into Sunday’s Emmy Awards with nine Creative Arts wins (including Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Period Costumes, Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie) and six major nominations, but it’s now also facing a lawsuit from Nona Gaprindashvili. The Georgian chess player became the first woman named Grandmaster by the International Chess Federation, a feat which occurred in 1978. As reported by The New York Times, Gaprindashvili filed a lawsuit against Netflix on September 16 due to a line of dialogue in “The Queen’s Gambit” finale that she claims is “a devastating falsehood.”

The line of dialogue is heard during a chess competition in Moscow featuring series protagonist Beth Harmon (Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Anya-Taylor Joy). As a woman watches the chess match, the announcer of the event is heard saying, “The only unusual thing about [Beth], 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.”

As reported by The Times: “Ms. Gaprindashvili filed a lawsuit against Netflix in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, seeking millions of dollars in damages for what the suit claims is a ‘devastating falsehood, undermining and degrading her accomplishments before an audience of many millions’ and calling for the line about her not facing men to be removed.”

Gaprindashvili had in fact faced men throughout her career, including winning the Challenges competition at the 1963/4 Hastings International Chess Congress.

Gaprindashvili said in a video interview arranged by her lawyers, “They were trying to do this fictional character who was blazing the trail for other women, when in reality I had already blazed the trail and inspired generations. That’s the irony…This was an insulting experience…This is my entire life that has been crossed out, as though it is not important.”

The lawsuit against Netflix claims that the streaming giant “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.”

“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,” the streaming giant said in a statement to The Times.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is now streaming in its entirety on Netflix. Head over to The New York Times’ website to read more about Gaprindashvili’s lawsuit.

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