Chess Icon Sues Netflix For $5 Million Over ‘Grossly Sexist’ Queen’s Gambit Line

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 17 Sep 2021 10:43
Chess Icon Sues Netflix For $5 Million Over 'Grossly Sexist' Queen's Gambit LineBNA Photographic/Dom Silke/Alamy

Netflix has been sued for $5 million by a chess icon due to a ‘grossly sexist’ line in the series finale of The Queen’s Gambit.  

Nona Gaprindashvili, a Georgian chess grandmaster, has sued the streaming service for defamation, with the allegedly ‘grossly sexist’ comment taking place in the series finale, End Game.


The series, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, has now become embroiled in the middle of a lawsuit just before the 2021 Emmy Awards.

Hoogovens chess tournament, 1st round; Nona Gaprindashvili Date: 19 January 1979 Location: Neighborhood by the Sea Keywords: chess, tournaments Personal name: Gaprindashvili, Nona Institution Name: Block Chess TournamentAlamy

A commentator is reporting on a chess match at the Moscow Invitationals between Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Russian grandmaster Viktor Laev, which Harmon subsequently wins.

During the match, the commentator references Gaprindashvili and says, ‘The only unusual thing about [Harmon], 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.’


The lawsuit has claimed that the camera is ‘obvious’ in how it then pans onto a woman in the audience, who supposedly represents Gaprindashvili, the Independent reported.

The 25-page lawsuit alleges that the commentator’s line about Gaprindashvili not having ever competed about men is ‘manifestly false’, ‘grossly sexist’ and ‘belittling’. The complaint has been filed in Los Angeles, in Federal District Court.

It stated:


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 10 grandmasters of that time.

It concluded that the 80-year-old’s achievements had been ‘brazenly and deliberately’ lied about by Netflix, with ‘actual malice’ for the ‘cheap’ intention of ‘heightening the drama’.

Furthermore, the inaccurate depiction of the chess star as being Russian rather than Georgian was said to have added further ‘insult to the injury’.

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Gaprindashvili claims that Netflix dismissed her allegations when she first confronted it about the line, dismissing the scene as unobjectionable.

She claimed that it did not proffer the option of a retraction or re-dubbing the line, and that it also didn’t issue a public statement.

On Thursday, September 16, a spokesperson for Netflix told NBC News that the streaming platform had ‘only the utmost respect for Ms Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career’. However, they went on to state that they believed the claim had ‘no merit’ and that they will vigorously defend the case’.


According to the Independent, Netflix has taken part in not just one but four instances of ‘actual malice’. It accuses them of deliberately changing the text of the original 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, which the series is based on.

The series, first released in 2020, was viewed by 62 million people. Subsequently, the lawsuit claims that The Queen’s Gambit has done ‘irreparable damage’ to Gaprindashvili’s reputation due to the implication that she wasn’t good enough to play in competitions against men.

Gaprindashvili’s lawyers accused the streaming platform of humiliating the ‘one real women trailblazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era’.

The lawsuit concluded that the story had subsequently done the opposite of its initial aims, to ‘inspire women by showing a young woman competing with men at the highest levels of world chess’, by allegedly knowingly diminishing Gaprindashvili’s achievements.

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Topics: News, Anya Taylor-Joy, Lawsuit, Netflix, Now, Sexism, sexist


The Independent and 1 other
  1. The Independent

    The Queen’s Gambit: Netflix sued for $5m over ‘grossly sexist’ line in series finale

  2. NBC News

    Former Soviet chess master sues Netflix over 'sexist' line in 'Queen's Gambit'