Netflix will face a $5 million defamation lawsuit from Georgian chess master Nona Gaprindashvili over alleged sexism and historical inaccuracies in its series The Queen’s Gambit, in which a fictional character claimed that this “female world champion has never faced men.” 

In the lawsuit from September 2021, Gaprindashvili’s lawyers write: “The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling.” The complaint added, “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, 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.” 

“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 New York Times. “That’s the irony.” 

The streaming company had previously asked for the defamation suit to be dismissed, arguing that the series is fiction and that show’s creators should have artistic license protected under the first amendment. According to the streamer’s lawyers, the show also used two chess experts to verify details in the series, noting the series meant to recognize Gaprindashvili, not disparage her. However, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips denied Netflix’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Thursday, stating that a work of fiction does not protect Netflix from liability for defamation. 

Gaprindashvili is a pioneer in women’s chess. She was the first woman to be awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE. Her dominance in women’s chess led her to win the Women’s Soviet Chess Championship in 1964, 1973, 1981, 1983 and 1985. She has earned many other victories through the 1980s and is still an active chess member in the chess world. 

Netflix said in a statement back in September 2021 that they have “the utmost respect for Ms. Gaspromdashvili and her illustrious career, but we believe this claim has no merit and will vigorously defend the case.” 

Read more about: