Netflix has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a Georgian chess master Nona Gaprindashvili, who alleged that she was defamed in an episode of the fictional hit television series “The Queen’s Gambit.”
Netflix tried to have the lawsuit thrown out of court claiming that its creative license was covered by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech. But in January a U.S. federal judge rejected that argument saying fictional works are not immune from lawsuits if they defame real people.
Netflix appealed the ruling but it was thrown out after the settlement was reached. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“The parties are pleased that the matter has been resolved,” said Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, the lawyer representing Gaprindashvili in the lawsuit.
Gaprindashvili, who demanded $5 million from Netflix, argued that her accomplishments were disparaged in the final episode of mini-series that premiered in 2020, where an announcer described her as “the female world champion” and as a player who “has never faced men.”
Gaprindashvili said the dialogue in the episode is “false” and “sexist and belittling,” and is directly tied to her because her name is mentioned in the final scene and “the camera pans onto an actor sitting in the audience, watching the game who is obviously meant to be Gaprindashvili.”
The lawsuit filed by Gaprindashvili stated that by 1968, the year in which the episode in question is set, Gaprindashvili had competed against at least 59 male chess players, at least 10 of whom were Grandmasters at the time.
Gaprindashvili, 81, played for the Soviet Union in the Women’s Chess Olympiads from the early 1960s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, winning 11 team gold medals and nine individual gold medals.
She also successfully competed in several men’s tournaments and her performance at the Lone Pine tournament in 1977 made her the first woman to perform at a high enough level to earn the title of International Grandmaster in 1978.