Netflix is getting sued for defamation by the Georgian chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili, saying she was incorrectly portrayed in the hit series The Queen’s Gambit.
The case is regarding a sequence in the drama’s last episode that said, she had never played competitive chess with men.
According to the document, by 1968, the same year in which the episode is set – she had faced at least 59 male players.
Netflix said the claim had “no merit”.
The firm 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.
It was released the previous year and became as per Netflix, its “biggest limited scripted series ever”.
The last episode features a commentator mentioning the 80-year-old player while 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.”
On Thursday, the case was filed in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles which 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 further added – “The allegation that Gaprindashvili ‘has never faced men’ is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling.”
Gaprindashvili was born in 1941 in the Georgian town of Zugdidi and started playing chess at the age of 13.
She became the female World Championship at 20 and was the first woman to be awarded the title of grandmaster, according to the lawsuit.
“By 1968,” the lawsuit says, 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.”
The player who now lives in Tbilisi still participates in chess tournaments and is seeking $5m (£3.6m) in compensation along with the removal of the statement that she had never played against men.
The lawsuit says the line had been changed from the book on which the series is based.
As per Netflix, the series was watched in more than 62 million households in the 28 days after its release.
Moreover, it has won two awards at this year’s Golden Globes and has garnered 18 nominations at the Emmy Awards.