Soviet-era chess player Nona Gaprindashvili has lodged a $5 million defamation lawsuit against Netflix over a line of dialogue from the streaming giant's drama series The Queen’s Gambit.
80-year-old Gaprindashvili has taken issue with what she calls an inaccurate and "grossly sexist" line which was said in the final episode of the hit series, which starred Anya Taylor-Joy as a chess prodigy who breaks barriers in the male-dominated game.
Based on Walter Tevi’s 1983 novel, The Queen’s Gambit was a global success.
Georgian chess master Gaprindashvili, who was the first woman to be awarded the FIDE title Grandmaster and the fifth women's world chess champion, has reacted strongly to a claim in the series that she "has never faced men" in any of her matches.
The lawsuit reads: "The allegation that Gaprindashvili 'has never faced men' is manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling.
"By 1968, the year in which this episode is set, she had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game), including at least ten 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.
"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.
"Thus, in a story that was supposed to inspire women by showing a young woman competing with men at the highest levels of world chess, Netflix humiliated the one real woman trail blazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era.
"This arrogant refusal to take responsibility for its actions was shockingly tone-deaf, given the sexism and offensiveness of its lie."
Netflix has issued a response to the allegations.
"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."
The Queen's Gambit is in the running for several Emmy Awards at this weekend's ceremony, including Best Actress for Anya-Taylor Joy as Beth Harmon, as well as supporting actor nominations for Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Moses Ingram.