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Netflix sued by chess icon over a line in The Queen’s Gambit

Netflix sued by chess icon over a line in The Queen’s Gambit

Nona Gaprindashvili played chess against 28 at one time men in 1965.

Nona Gaprindashvili played chess against 28 at one time men in 1965.
Photo: Woods / Daily Express / Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

With Emmys around the corner, Netflix has been decorated by one $ 5 million lawsuit for defamation involving a line in the final of Very popular and Emmy-nominated The Queen’s Gambit. The complaint has been filed by chess master Nona Gaprindashvili, who claims that Netflix deliberately diminished her performance on the show to make it her fictional protagonist, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), seems more impressive in contrast.

That line is spoken during the miniseries finale, “End Game,” in which Beth competes in a high-stakes competition in Moscow. “The only thing unusual about her is really her gender, and even that is not unique in Russia,” a commentator said during a match. “There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never met men.” Especially the last part about never playing against men who really rub Gaprindashvili the wrong way.

“Gaprindashvili is a pioneer in women’s chess and a much-loved icon in his native Georgia,” the 25-page suit indicates. “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.”

While Beth Harmon is purely a fictional character, Gaprindashvili is largely a true woman who broke barriers in the chess world in the 60s. The Georgia-born world champion, now 80 years old, was the women’s world champion in chess from 1978. In 1978, she was awarded the title of Grand Champion.

The suit also recognizes Gaprindashvili’s performance without a doubt inspired Walter Tevi’s 1983 novel where The Queen’s Gambit Is based. Both the novel and the series trace Beth’s life, beginning with her youth at an orphanage in Kentucky. With the help of a mentor, she discovers a talent and a passion for the game of chess and the addictive nature of the pills she receives daily at the orphanage. The series follows her as she climbs the chess rankings, all the while battling addiction and the battles that come with the true genius. The suit claims that unlike Tevi’s novel, which only happens to mention Gaprindashvili, Netflix deliberately took the license and wrote the false claim.

“These facts were familiar 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 former Russian world champion and American national champion Bruce Pandolfini, was considered America’s most experienced chess teacher and consultant for Tevis when he wrote the novel. ”

Now since The Queen’s Gambit is set in the 60s, you might be thinking: Well maybe Gaprindashvili had not played a male chess player at the time? Not quite.

“The claim that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is obviously false, just as it is grossly sexist and degrading. By 1968, the year this episode was set, she had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in a game), including at least ten grandmasters at the 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. ”

And for what purpose does the case claim? To lift a fictional character by dragging a real character down.

Netflix lied fruitfully and deliberately about Gaprindashvili’s performance with the cheap and cynical purpose of ‘amplifying the drama’ by making it look as if its fictional hero had managed to do what no other woman, including Gaprindashvili, had done. In a story that was to inspire women by showing a young woman competing with men at the highest levels of world chess, Netflix humiliated the only real woman trail blazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era. ”

Gaprindashvili claims she only went to Netflix after the show aired in 2020 and asked them to admit the statement was false, offer an apology and withdraw the line. She says she was met with “extraordinary hubris” and Netflix dismissed her claim as “harmless”. Following today’s request for a case, Netflix did not have too much to say.

“Netflix has the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her famous career, but we believe this claim has no merit and will defend the case vigorously,” said a spokesman Deadline.


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