Netflix Sued for $5M Over One Line in Queen's Gambit

Real-life chess champion is not happy about what show said about her
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2021 1:18 AM CDT
Updated Sep 19, 2021 4:40 PM CDT
One Line in Queen's Gambit Gets Netflix Sued for $5M
This image release by Netflix shows Anya Taylor-Joy from the series "The Queen's Gambit." The program is nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding limited series.   (Charlie Gray/Netflix via AP)

(Newser) – In the last episode of The Queen's Gambit, a fictional chess commentator makes a comment about the fictional main character of the Netflix show—a comment that has now gotten Netflix sued for $5 million. Speaking about Beth Harmon as she plays in the Moscow Invitational, the commentator claims, "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." The problem? Gaprindashvili is not a fictional character; she's a real-life chess champ from the country of Georgia, and she says that dialogue is not at all accurate. Hence the lawsuit, Deadline reports.

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"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), including at least ten Grandmasters of that time," reads the defamation suit filed by lawyers for Gaprindashvili in California. "The last three were also world champions during their careers. ... 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." The suit says Netflix, having hired "two of the world's leading chess authorities as consultants," was well aware of these facts. The book upon which the series was based also acknowledges Gaprindashvili faced Grandmasters.

It also says Gaprindashvili contacted Netflix after the series debuted, asking for the inaccuracy to be publicly corrected with a retraction and apology, but the streaming service declined to do so, calling the line of dialogue "innocuous." In a statement cited by the New York Times, the company goes further: "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." Gaprindashvili became a champion under the former Soviet Union, NBC News reports. (Read more Netflix stories.)

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