Chess champion mentioned in ‘Queen’s Gambit’ slaps Netflix with $5 million defamation lawsuit

Netflix was hit with a lawsuit Thursday over the mention of chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili in the latest episode of the Emmy-winning limited series “The Queens Gambit.”

Gaprindashvili was mentioned in passing in the final episode’s dialogue, with one commentator calling her a “women’s world champion”. [who] has never faced men. Gaprindashvili’s lawsuit calls the comment “patently untrue, in addition to being grossly sexist and derogatory.”

Gaprindashvili is suing Netflix for invasion of privacy and defamation. She is seeking $5 million plus punitive damages.

“The Queen’s Gambit”, based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, tells the story of a fictional chess prodigy throughout her career in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the majority of the main characters are fictional, the series mentions several real-life events and characters throughout its seven-episode run, including the commentary on Gaprindashvili.

“In 1968, the year this episode takes place, she had faced at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in a game), including at least ten grandmasters of the time,” Gaprindashvili’s lawyers claim. in the trial.

The lawsuit notes that Tevis’ book correctly references his career and that Netflix had several chess consultants working on the series who were allegedly aware of the error. Gaprindashvili also took issue with being portrayed as a Russian player despite coming from Georgia, a country that “had suffered under Russian rule when it was part of the Soviet Union, and had been bullied and invaded. later by Russia”.

“Netflix didn’t need to use Gaprindashvili’s name and disparage her accomplishments for dramatic purposes. It could have used a fictional character instead; or it could have referred to her by name, but not telling the lie that she had never competed against men. Instead, Netflix deliberately avoided these non-defamatory alternatives because it believed the lie made for a more dramatic story,” the lawsuit states.

A Netflix spokesperson responded to the lawsuit in a statement: “Netflix has nothing but the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career, but we believe this claim is without merit and will vigorously defend the case.” .

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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