Netflix sued over one line in The Queen's Gambit

Grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili files a lawsuit against Netflix over a line in the show saying she never faced men.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
2 min read

Georgian chess player and women's world chess champion, Nona Gaprindashvili of the Soviet Union, pictured playing a game of chess at the International Chess Congress in London on Dec. 30, 1964.

Photo by Stanley Sherman/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Queen's Gambit was for the most part met positively by the chess community. But now the  Netflix  miniseries about a fictional female chess player is under fire. A line in the final episode directly references real-life chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili, who filed a lawsuit Thursday calling for it to be removed.

"The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex, and even that's not unique in Russia," an announcer says during the climactic Moscow tournament in which fictional heroine Beth Harmon competes. "There's Nona Gaprindashvili, but she's the female world champion and has never faced men," he says of a woman who can be seen watching the match.

Gaprindashvili filed the lawsuit against Netflix in Federal District Court in Los Angeles. The 80-year-old is seeking millions of dollars in damages. The suit claims the line about her not facing men is a "devastating falsehood, undermining and degrading her accomplishments before an audience of many millions."

Gaprindashvili, who now lives in Georgia, continues to compete in senior chess tournaments. She was the first woman to be named a grandmaster and has competed against -- and beaten -- many high level male players.

"They were trying to do this fictional character who was blazing the trail for other women, when in reality I had already blazed the trail and inspired generations," Gaprindashvili told The New York Times via a translator. "That's the irony."

A spokesperson from Netflix told CNET, "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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