Georgian chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili has filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix, saying she was incorrectly portrayed in the hit series The Queen’s Gambit.
The case refers to a scene in the final episode of the drama in which Gaprindashvili, now 80, claims he has never played competitive chess with men.
According to the document, by 1968, the year in which the episode is set, she had faced at least 59 male players.
Netflix stated that the claim had “no merit.”
The company stated that while it has “only the utmost respect” for Gaprindashvili and her “illustrious career,” it will “vigorously defend the case.”
The Queen’s Gambit is based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name and follows a fictional chess player named Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. The series debuted last year and quickly became Netflix’s “biggest limited scripted series ever.”
A commentator mentions Gaprindashvili when describing Harmon in the final episode: “Her sex is the only thing that distinguishes her. Even so, this is not unusual in Russia. Nona Gaprindashvili exists, but she is the female world champion and has never faced a man.”
“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,” according to the 25-page case filed in Federal District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as grossly sexist and belittling,” it continued.
Gaprindashvili, who was born in 1941 in the Georgian town of Zugdidi, began playing chess at the age of 13, won the female World Championship at the age of 20, and was the first woman to be awarded the title of grandmaster, according to the lawsuit.
“According to the lawsuit, Gaprindashvili “had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game) by 1968, including at least ten Grandmasters of the time, including Dragolyub Velimirovich, Svetozar Gligoric, Paul Keres, Bojan Kurajica, Boris Spassky, Viswanathan Anand, and Mikhail Tal.” During their careers, the last three were also world champions.”
Gaprindashvili, who lives in Tbilisi and still competes in chess tournaments, is suing for $5 million (£3.6 million) in damages and the removal of the statement that she had never played against men. According to the lawsuit, the line was changed from the book on which the series is based.
According to Netflix, The Queen’s Gambit was watched in more than 62 million households in the first 28 days after its release. It received two Golden Globe nominations this year and has 18 nominations for the Emmy Awards, which will be held this weekend.