Expected to win big at this Sunday’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, The Queen’s Gambit is now facing a $5 million defamation lawsuit over a line in the series.
Per Deadline, Soviet chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili has filed a suit against Netflix for a seemingly incorrect statement in the “End Game” finale of the limited series that compares her real-life accomplishments to that of Anya Taylor-Joy’s Beth Harmon.
“The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex, and even that’s not unique in Russia,” a commentator quips as Harmon plays in a white-knuckle match in Moscow. “There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”
The suit reads, “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.”
“The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling,” Gaprindashvili’s 25-page complaint reads. “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, 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 said 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.”
“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 trailblazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era,” the suit continued.
“This arrogant refusal to take responsibility for its actions was shockingly tone-deaf, given the sexism and offensiveness of its lie.” Apparently, Gaprindashvili, 80, reached out directly to have the line fixed permanently in the series if she wins this lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Netflix said yesterday, “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.”