In Search of Checkmate: Chess legend sues Netflix for The Queen’s Gambit

In Search of Checkmate: Chess legend sues Netflix for The Queen’s Gambit

Los Gatos, CA – A legendary chess player seeks a checkmate against Netflix.

Chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili (left) is suing Netflix over remarks about her in The Queen’s Gambit (right) which she calls “grossly sexist and demeaning”. © Collage: IMAGO / Kohlmeyer & ZUMA Press

Georgian chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili has launched an attack on Netflix for her allegedly defamatory portrayal of her in the Emmy-nominated series The Queen’s Gambit.

The streaming giant, however, insists that “Gaprindashvili’s claim has no merit.”

On Thursday, Gaprindashvili filed a $ 5 million lawsuit against Netflix in California for allegedly “belittling” her accomplishments as the first woman in chess history to be named grandmaster.

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The Queen’s Gambit – which received 18 Emmy nominations this year, including a nod to limited series – stars Anya Taylor-Joy as an American chess prodigy who frequently and epically triumphs over her predominantly competitors. masculine.

The trial focuses on a specific scene from the show in which a commentator checks Gaprindashvili’s name while recounting a match between protagonist Beth Harmon and fictional Russian grandmaster Viktor Laev at the Moscow Invitational Tournament in the final from the Serie.

“Elizabeth Harmon is not at all an important player by their standards,” notes the commentator on the show.

“The only thing unusual about her, really, is her gender. And even that is not unique to Russia. There is Nona Gaprindashvili, but she is the female world champion and has never faced men. Guess Laev was expecting an easy win, not the 27 blows Beth Harmon just gave her at all. “

According to Gaprindashvili’s complaint, the claim that the true chess champion “has never faced men” is “patently false, besides being grossly sexist and demeaning”.

The lawsuit indicates that Gaprindashvili “had faced at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in a game), including at least 10 grandmasters of the time”, in 1968 – the year in which the last episode of “The Queen’s Gambit” unfolds.

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Nona Gaprindashvili (right) in her match against reigning chess champion Elizaveta Bykova at the Women's World Chess Championship in Moscow in 1962.

Nona Gaprindashvili (right) in her match against reigning chess champion Elizaveta Bykova at the 1962 Women’s World Chess Championship in Moscow. © imago / United Archives International

The chess legend is suing the streaming platform for invasion of privacy and false enlightenment defamation, per se, “resulting from a misrepresentation of facts knowingly made about him” in the Netflix drama.

“Netflix has the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career,” the streamer said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times on Friday, “but we believe that claim has no basis and will vigorously defend it. case”.

Gaprindashvili also accused Netflix, in addition to allegedly denigrating her heritage, of falsely claiming that she was Russian when she identified herself as Georgian. In the past, Gaprindashvili has represented both the Soviet Union and Georgia in competition.

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Stacking on the additional insult to injury, Netflix described Gaprindashvili as Russian, although she knew she was Georgian and the Georgians suffered under Russian rule when they were part of the Soviet Union, and were subsequently intimidated and invaded by Russia, “the lawsuit reads. .

Gaprindashvili is asking for $ 5 million in damages and a deal whereby the streamer “will remove the statement that Gaprindashvili has never played men on the show.”

“Netflix brazenly and deliberately lied about Gaprindashvili’s accomplishments in the cheap and cynical aim of” heightening the drama “by making it appear that its fictional hero had managed to do what no other woman, including Gaprindashvili, did. ‘had done,’ the complaint said.

So, in a story that was supposed to inspire women by showing a young woman competing with men at the highest levels of global chess, Netflix humbled the one true trailblazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the stage. world at the same time. “

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Kohlmeyer & ZUMA Press

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