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Chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili sues Netflix over portrayal in Queen’s Gambit

Nona Gaprindashvili slammed a 'sexist' dialogue in the series which allegedly 'defames' the chess legend.

Nona Gaprindashvili

Georgian chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili has filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix. Gaprindashvili claims she was portrayed incorrectly in the widely renowned series, Queen’s Gambit. The row is over a sequence in the drama’s final episode which says the Georgian, now 80, had never played competitive chess with men.

While the lawsuit claims that by 1968, the year in which the episode is set, she had faced at least 59 male players. In their defence, Netflix said the claim had “no merit“. The company said it had “only the utmost respect” for Gaprindashvili and her “illustrious career” but that it would “vigorously defend the case“.

The Queen’s Gambit is based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis and focuses on a fictional chess player called Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. In the final episode, a commentator mentions Gaprindashvili when describing Harmon: “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.

Nona Gaprindashvili is seeking $5m in compensation

Chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili sues Netflix over portrayal in Queen's Gambit 2

Born in 1941 in the Georgian town of Zugdidi, Nona Gaprindashvili began playing chess at the age of 13, became a female World Championship at 20 and was the first woman to be awarded the title of grandmaster. Gaprindashvili, who lives in Tbilisi and continues to compete in chess tournaments, is seeking $5m (£3.6m) in compensation and the removal of the statement.

The 25-page case filed in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday said: “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.

It added: “The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling. By 1968 Gaprindashvili had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game), including at least 10 Grandmasters of that time.

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