Georgian chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili has filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix for the alleged incorrect portrayal of her character in the hit series The Queen’s Gambit.

The 25-page case was filed in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. The petition refers to a scene in the final episode of the limited series set in 1968 where it is told that Gaprindashvili had never played competitive chess with men.

In the final episode, a commentator mentions Gaprindashvili while describing the protagonist Elizabeth Harmon by saying, “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.”

Gaprindashvili, who lives in Tbilisi and continues to compete in chess tournaments even at a ripe age of 80, is seeking $5m in compensation and the removal of the claim that she had never played against men. The lawsuit claims that the line had been changed from the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis on which the series is based.

The lawsuit reads, “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.”

The lawsuit 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.”

In response, Netflix said the claim had “no merit”. The company said it had “only the utmost respect” for Gaprindashvili and her “illustrious career” before adding that the company would “vigorously defend the case”.

Netflix released the series last year, becoming what Netflix described as its “biggest limited scripted series ever”. The company says that the series was viewed in more than 62 million households in the first 28 days after its release. Since then, it has won two Golden Globes and has been nominated in 18 categories at the upcoming Emmy Awards.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
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