- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
A legal duel between Netflix and Nona Gaprindashvili, a Georgian chess champion in the 1970s who says she was defamed in an episode of The Queen’s Gambit, has ended in a stalemate. The two sides on Monday informed the court they’ve reached a deal.
The Emmy-winning series, based on a 1983 novel of the same name, chronicles the rise of orphan Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) to the top of the chess world. The show culminates in Harmon beating Russia’s best players in the 1960s at a renowned chess tournament.
But Gaprindashvili took issue with a fictional chess commentator’s line in the series finale that she alleged defamed her. The commentator says about 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.”
In her suit, Gaprindashvili claimed that the representation that she “never faced men” is “manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belitting.” She said that by 1968, when the episode is set, she competed against at least 59 male chess players, with at least 10 being grandmasters.
“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,” stated the complaint. “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.”
The deals comes after a federal judge in January refused to dismiss the case.
In a motion to strike Gaprindashvili’s suit under California’s anti-SLAPP law, Netflix had argued that viewers understood the line not to be true since “fictional works have no obligation to the truth.”
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips rejected the argument that the streamer cannot be sued for defamation of real people in works of fiction. She found that Netflix acted with a “reckless disregard” for the truth, pointing to the show referencing Gaprindashvili by name and chronicling real people and events. She wrote, “Not only does this close the gap between associating the supposedly fictional character with the real person, regardless of whether viewers recognized Plaintiff’s name (as indeed, some did), viewers may reasonably have believed the comment to be one of these historical details incorporated into the Series.”
Netflix appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which agreed to review the case before it settled.
Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, representing Gaprindashvili, told The Hollywood Reporter, “I am pleased that the matter has been resolved.”
Netflix and its attorneys didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The resolution this fight comes on the heels of another brewing battle. In August, Rachel Williams — an associate of New York City con artist Anna Sorokin — sued the streamer for defamation over her portrayal in Inventing Anna.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day