Chess champion sues Netflix over 'sexist and belittling' line about her in The Queen's Gambit

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The Queen's Gambit
The Queen's Gambit Netflix

A single line of dialogue from The Queen's Gambit has earned Netflix a $5 million defamation lawsuit.

Chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix on Thursday over a line referencing her in the hit streaming show that she described as "grossly sexist and belittling," The New York Times and Deadline report.

The last episode of the miniseries sees chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) participate in a tournament, during which an announcer states, "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."

But the lawsuit says that Gaprindashvili, the first female grandmaster, had actually faced over 50 male chess players by the time this episode took place in 1968, and it described the line as a "devastating falsehood, undermining and degrading her accomplishments before an audience of many millions." Netflix "brazenly and deliberately lied" about her for the "cheap and cynical purpose of 'heightening the drama,'" meaning a series looking to "inspire women" ultimately "humiliated the one real woman trail blazer who had actually faced and defeated men on the world stage in the same era," the lawsuit also alleges.

A Netflix spokesperson told Deadline that it has the "utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career" but that "we believe this claim has no merit and will vigorously defend the case." News of the lawsuit comes days before Sunday's Emmy Awards, where many pundits expect The Queen's Gambit to be awarded Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. According to the Times, in addition to seeking $5 million in damages, Gaprindashvili also wants the line removed from the show.

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