Former chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili said, Friday, she is suing Netflix bosses for $5 million over false information in “The Queen’s Gambit”.
The 80-year-old Soviet star filed a defamation suit regarding a “manifestly false” piece of dialogue in the show. Gaprindashvili is seeking at least $5 million (£3.6 million) in actual damages plus more in punitive damages, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The former champion is objecting to a commentator’s claim in the hit streaming series’ final episode that fictional game whiz Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, was the first female world champion who ever competed against men.
In the last episode of The Queen’s Gambit, a fictional chess commentator makes a comment about the show star Beth Harmon as she plays in the Moscow Invitational: “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.”
In the suit, Nona writes: “The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling.”
“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,” she added.
By 1968, when the episode is set, Gaprindashvili had competed against at least 59 male chess players including 10 Grandmasters, according to the lawsuit.
In this sense, the suit argues that Netflix was well aware of these facts, having hired “two of the world’s leading chess authorities as consultants.”
She also takes offence at being called a “Russian” when she is from Georgia, which was under Soviet rule from 1921 to 1991.
“Piling on additional insult to injury, Netflix described Gaprindashvili as Russian, despite knowing that she was Georgian, and that Georgians had suffered under Russian domination when part of the Soviet Union, and had been bullied and invaded by Russia thereafter,” the suit continues.
Gaprindashvili, the suit alleged, contacted Netflix after the series was released, asking that the inaccuracy be publicly corrected with a retraction and apology. Nonetheless, the streaming service declined to do so, calling the line of dialogue “innocuous.”
Meanwhile, a Netflix spokesperson has revealed company bosses will contest the suit, sharing in a statement: “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.”