‘Queen’s Gambit’ Defamation Suit Over ‘Grossly Sexist’ Line About Chess Champ Is Settled Out of Court

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The defamation suit facing Netflix’s hit limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” has ended in a draw between the streamer and Georgian chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili, who had contention with a line about her in the show that she deemed “grossly sexist and belittling.”

The two parties settled out of court, they informed the judge in a filing on Monday. The stalemate comes after a January ruling that Gaprindashvili’s claim had merit, with a judge rejecting Netflix’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that works of fiction are immune from defamation lawsuits if they disparage real people.

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In an episode of the Emmy-winning chess thriller, a fictional prodigy portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy is distinguished as the first woman to play against men, with a commentator saying that Gaprindashvili is the “female world champion [who] has never faced men.” The lawsuit called the comment “manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling.”

“By 1968, the year in which this episode is set, she had competed against at least 59 male chess players (28 of them simultaneously in one game), including at least ten Grandmasters of that time,” Gaprindashvili’s attorneys argued.

In January, Netflix conceded the line is inaccurate, but contended that the “Line is fiction and thus not understood to be conveying a fact. Netflix additionally argues for a substantial truth defense because the difference between having faced men by 1963 versus 1968 amounts to only a minor inaccuracy.”

The popular series, which catapulted Taylor-Joy to household name status and is based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name, is fictional, but does reference real-life events and figures of the 1950s and 1960s chess world, including Gaprindashvili. According to the lawsuit, the novel references her career correctly and Netflix’s multiple chess consultants should have caught the error.

Gaprindashvili sued Netflix for portraying her in a false light, invasion of privacy and defamation and sought redress with $5 million plus punitive damages. The amount settled on has not been publicized, with both parties agreeing to cover their own fees.

Gaprindashvili was among the greatest chess players to come out of the Soviet Union and in 1978 became the first woman ever awarded the title of Grandmaster.

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