Netflix must compensate the legendary chess player | Opinion
Netflix’s miniseries ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ has been turning heads and addicting to binge following its release in October 2020. Featuring seven episodes of the limited series based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis , “The Queen’s Gambit” turned out to be a fast-paced but compelling story of female empowerment on the chess playing field.
However, in the series’ final episode, “End Game,” an announcer said of female heroine Beth Harmon, “The only unusual thing about her, really, is her gender, and even that’s not unique in Russia: There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the women’s world champion and she’s never faced a man.
Chess pioneer and grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili filed a lawsuit in a United States District Court in Los Angeles against Netflix on September 16 for character defamation in “The Queen’s Gambit.”
Netflix must compensate Soviet chess icon for defamation in Nona Gaprindashvili v. Netflix Inc. Additionally, when producing future series, Netflix must thoroughly research a non-fictional character before releasing false and defamatory statements.
Gaprindashvili is seeking at least $5 million for actual and alleged damages in his lawsuit against Netflix. His lawsuit alleges that misinformation degrades his achievements. According to the filing, she also wants Netflix to drop the line from the limited series.
The series is set to take place from 1958 to 1968, alongside Gaprindashvili’s meteoric rise. Her success during this decade included a game she played against 28 male players simultaneously in 1965.
Looking back, Gaprindashvili started playing chess at the age of five and trained with Georgian grandmasters as a teenager. She won the Women’s World Championship in 1962, becoming a symbol of pride in Georgia.
Gaprindashvili was also the first woman to become a grandmaster, a title earned after the 1977 Lone Pine International Tournament where she finished tied for first and defeated four chess grandmasters.
Suing for invasion of privacy and defamation, Gaprindashvili claims the statement that she has never met men is false and disparaging. The claim states that by 1968 she had already faced “at least 59 male chess players”. The official complaint also states that Netflix was well aware of its success and success, as book and chess authorities served as consultants for the series.
Her complaint alleges that Netflix deliberately changed the passage from Tevis’ book to dramatize the series and make Harmon appear as if she had conquered the chess crown before any other non-fictional woman.
Prior to the trial, other media outlets spoke about the falsity of the statements made in the latest episode of “The Queen’s Gambit”. The Calvert Journal called out Netflix for its glaring error and detailed Gaprindashvili’s life and career.
The limited series reached a total of 62 million households worldwide in its first 28 days and in multiple countries around the world. This large audience listened and watched the lie that happened in the final episode.
If that’s all the viewer knows about Gaprindashvili, then the viewer doesn’t know the truth about his inspirational career. The show discredits his accomplishments and ability to break the glass ceiling in the male-dominated competitive chess field of the 1960s.
The Netflix miniseries’ defamatory remarks call into question the validity of his World Chess Hall of Fame induction and grandmaster status. However, she has rightfully earned both accolades with her success in chess competitions against both male and female opponents.
According to the court filing, Gaprindashvili not only claims Netflix’s deliberate actions damaged its reputation and brand, but also caused at least $75,000 in lost business opportunities.
His involvement in the world of chess is directly linked to the mastery of the craft, by which Netflix made trivial in seconds.
“Gaprindashvili’s professional reputation and brand were inextricably linked to his courageous efforts to face and defeat esteemed male opponents when chess was predominantly a man’s world,” according to the complaint.
The opposing party may argue that Gaprindashvili should not be paid actual, alleged and punitive damages, as the line in “The Queen’s Gambit” is only a fleeting moment in the series. However, when you consider the millions of people who have watched the series, the damage accumulates, leading to the potential erasure of an individual’s career.
The fallacy of Netflix’s narration strips Gaprindashvili of her praise and potentially allows the general public to believe that she was another notable woman who paved the way for female chess competitors.
Although the series is fictional, referring to a real person still grounds it in the story and makes the statement defamatory. Netflix could have easily created another fictional character to compare to Beth Harmon in the final episode. However, Netflix must now exercise caution when producing new series.
Nona Gaprindashvili must checkmate Netflix in this developing court case. More importantly, she must be paid for the damages. She suffered at the hands of a poorly told series that could have inspired millions of viewers.