Netflix’s Anya Taylor-Joy starrer series The Queen’s Gambit, which was poised to win big at this weekend’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, has now been involved a legal suit. Barrier-breaking Soviet chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili has sued the streaming platform for $5 million in a defamation lawsuit over a dialogue.
In the End Game finale of the limited series, Gaprindashviliis perturbed specifically by the incorrect statement that compares her real-life accomplishments to that of the Taylor-Joy’s fictional Beth Harmon. The scene follows when Harmon plays in a white-knuckle match in Moscow, a commentator says, “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.”
According to Deadline, the defamation suit counters the statement in the casefiled in federal court by California lawyers. As pointed out, “Gaprindashvili is a pioneer of women’s chess and a much-loved icon in her native country of Georgia. Throughout her extraordinary career, she won many championships, beat some of the best male chess players in the world, and was the first woman in history to achieve the status of international chess grandmaster among men.”
The Queen’s Gambit is based on Walter Tevi’s 1983 novel which follows Beth Harmon (Taylor-Joy), a young girl abandoned to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s who discovers an astonishing talent for chess while battling addiction and the struggles that come with the true gift of genius. The series proved to be a global sensation, having won a leading nine trophies at the Creative Emmys last weekend.
Gaprindashvili’s 25-page complaint adds, “The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling. By 1968, the year in which this episode is set, she had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game), including at least ten Grandmasters of that time, including Dragolyub Velimirovich, Svetozar Gligoric, Paul Keres, Bojan Kurajica, Boris Spassky, Viswanathan Anand and Mikhail Tal. The last three were also world champions during their careers.”
Attorneys with Rufus-Isaacs Acland & Grantham LLP state shared, “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,” adding, “The arrogant refusal to take responsibility for its actions was shockingly tone-deaf, given the sexism and offensiveness of its lie.”
Responding to the same, Netflix’s spokesperson on Thursday said, “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.”
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