The Queen’s Gambit made waves of acclaim upon its release in October 2020, but failed to resonate with chess Grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili, who sued Netflix for defamation after the show mentioned that she never played against men. Now, her suit against the streaming giant has been settled.
Beth Harmon is a woman in a man’s world as she becomes a chess prodigy at a young age and struggles with addiction and alcoholism while rising to the top of the 1950s and 1960s chess scene. The miniseries was lauded for Anya-Taylor Joy’s performance as Beth Harmon and its feminist narrative, but one world famous chess champion was less amused by the show. Nona Gaprindashvili is a Georgian chess player who won the title of Grandmaster in 1978, and the show very briefly mentions that she never faced any male competitors—except Gaprindashvili herself claims that’s untrue.
“The only unusual thing about [Beth Harmon], really, is her sex. And even that’s not unique in Russia,” an announcer declares in the final episode of The Queen’s Gambit. “There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.”
Gaprindashvili’s defamation suit against Netflix regarding the misinformation, as well as her being falsely identified as Russian, has been settled, according to Variety. The suit was first filed in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles September 2021, and the streamer tried (and failed) to throw out the suit in court. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but both parties were apparently satisfied with the result.
The Queen’s Gambit operates in an odd, liminal space—not quite reality but not quite alternate history. Gaprindashvili’s lawsuit targeted that gray area, as she claimed that the off-the-cuff remark made in the final episode was sexist.