First female Chess Grandmaster sues Netflix because The Queen’s Gambit says she never faced men


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Last year, Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit became a lockdown hit: the series, based on a 1981 novel of the same name, follows chess prodigy Beth Harmon on her journey from playing in basements to playing. the best in the world in the Soviet Union. The show is a work of fiction. By portraying the journey of a young player in an “authentic” 1960s chess scene, however, the show is now accused of disparaging the story of a woman who actually did it.

In the last episode of the series, fictional hero Beth, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, takes part in a high-level tournament in Moscow (then the epicenter of the chess world). An in-universe commentator said the following during the match at one point: “The only thing unusual about [Beth], really, it’s her gender, and even that is not unique to Russia. There is Nona Gaprindashvili, but she is the female world champion and she has never faced men. “

Nona Gaprindashvili was indeed the female world champion, as well as the first woman to be named International Grandmaster of Chess by FIDE (1978), and she not only faced many men, but beat them hands down. She took part in men’s tournaments in the 60s and won them. Gaprindashvili, now 80 years old and living in Tbilisi, Georgia, is not impressed that a fictional chess show has crushed her achievements.

Last week, Gaprindashvili launched a lawsuit against Netflix in Los Angeles, as reported by The New York Times, seeking millions in damages for a “devastating lie, undermining and degrading his accomplishments in front of an audience of many. millions of people “. The complaint notes that the Queen’s Gambit was viewed in 62 million homes in the first month after its release.

The Queen’s Gambit “brazenly and deliberately lied about Gaprindashvili’s accomplishments in the cheap and cynical aim of” heightening the drama “by making it appear that her fictional hero had succeeded in doing what no other woman, including Gaprindashvili, did. hadn’t done […] Netflix humbled the only true female trailblazer who had faced and defeated men on the world stage around the same time. “

The costume details Gaprindashvili’s history of playing against male champions, including the fact that she had done so before the show’s fictional tournament date. Thus, the claim that she had “never faced men”, according to Gaprindashvili’s complaint, caused professional harm to someone who still plays on the chess scene.

Finally, he notes that the replica of the Netflix series has been modified from the replica of the original novel, which is: “There was Nona Gaprindashvili, not up to this tournament, but a player who had met all these Greats. Russian masters. several times before. “

Nona Gaprindashvili of the Soviet Union, pictured playing chess at the International Chess Congress in London on December 30, 1964.

(Image credit: Stanley Sherman / Stringer via Getty images)

Gaprindashvili told The New York Times about the lawsuit: “It was an insulting experience. My whole life was locked out, like it didn’t matter.”

“It took a year of fighting to be accepted. Every time they saw me as a little, little and young girl, they would tell me to stand in line, to play next time, but not now. But I have always asserted my place. “

If you think Gaprindashvili looks a bit of a badass you’d be right, and purely on public perception it’s a fight Netflix should graciously concede. The streaming giant may have a technically sound argument that the show is fictional after all: but it’s impossible to ignore the irony of a show about a woman breaking into a distorting male dominated field. the story of the real women who made it. The decent thing here would be to delete or edit the line, apologize and settle.

Particularly because, you know, I think Netflix’s costumes can go wrong if they underestimate Nona Gaprindashvili.

“It is already part of my heritage that female chess players are accepted and become great masters. [lawsuit] is also a big part of it. It’s a fight that I started, and it’s a fight that I am continuing. “

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