The Major Historical Flub At Center of 'The Queen's Gambit' Lawsuit

The Major Historical Flub At Center of 'The Queen's Gambit' Lawsuit

Move over, Game of Thrones coffee cup – it seems Netflix's hit mini-series, The Queen's Gambit, has seemingly set a new, low standard for egregious historical inaccuracies in movies and films, allegedly flubbing the facts so badly that the streaming giant recently found itself embroiled in a legal game of chess with a real-life grandmaster over one purported faux pas. 

Based on Walter Tevis's 1983 novel of the same name, The Queen's Gambit centers around the chess and drug-filled times of Beth Harmon, a fictional chess prodigy who fights her way through the tough ranks of professional chess, ultimately beating the odds to become one of the game's premier players. Yet it seems Harmon's real-life peer, Nona Gaprindashvili, a Georgian chess player who made history after becoming the world's first female grandmaster in 1978, evidently wasn't too thrilled with the series – namely, her brief depiction in the show. Last Thursday, the chess legend sued the streaming giant for invasion of privacy and defamation, a lawsuit seemingly centering on one line in the show's final episode, during Harmon's showdown with Russia's equally fictional chess champion, Vasily Borgov.

“The only unusual thing about her, really, is her sex,” says a radio announcer during their tense match at the 1968 Moscow International. “And even that's not unique in Russia. There's Nona Gaprindashvili, but she's the female world champion and has never faced men," he continued, the camera panning to a woman sitting in the audience. 

Despite the announcer's confident assertion that she has never gone up against a male competitor, Gaprindashvili and her legal team say this statement is not only “manifestly false” but also “grossly sexist and belittling," writing in the legal filing that at the time of the fictional match, the now 80-year-old chess legend had competed against at least 59 male players. 

“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,” reads the lawsuit, per BBC News

Furthermore, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, one of the chess icon's attorneys, told NPR this inaccuracy seemingly weakens the show's message of women's empowerment. "We think it's a very shabby thing of them to have done," Rufus-Isaacs explained. “This whole program, The Queen's Gambit, is aimed to show that women can succeed, and how their heroine overcame prejudice. But in doing so, they trashed the real person who had really been the trailblazer,” he continued, later adding that the show should have either used the book's exact wording surrounding his client or used a fictional name. 

Despite these bold claims, the streaming giant has denied any wrongdoing. "Netflix has only the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career, but we believe this claim has no merit and will vigorously defend the case," the service said in a statement. 

Top Image: Netflix/Hans Peters / Anefo

For more internet nonsense, follow Carly on Instagram @HuntressThompson_ on TikTok as @HuntressThompson_, and on Twitter @TennesAnyone.

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