Netflix refuses to remove references to chess legend Gaprindashvili in feature subject to lawsuit

Nona Gaprindashvili's lawyer team has called the claim that she did not face male players "manifestly false". Photo via BLB lawyer firm., 24 Sep 2021 - 17:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

Netflix has refused to remove a disputed reference to Georgian chess legend Nona Gaprindashvili in TV series The Queen’s Gambit, in the latest development in an ongoing lawsuit filed by the five-time world champion against the cinema platform earlier this month.

The streaming platform has declined requests for removing a reference to Gaprindashvili, claimed to be factually inaccurate in the defamation lawsuit, with the matter set to escalate to a California court as a result.

Lawyer Rusudan Maisuradze, representing the Soviet-era world champion who dominated world championships in the 1960s and 1970s, told Formula TV Netflix had informed Gaprindashvili's team of lawyers the company would neither apologise nor remove the disputed line from the final episode of The Queen's Gambit.

A spokesperson for Netflix has also been quoted saying the company had "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 contention has been caused by the episode of the popular series where a commentator alleges Gaprindashvili has "never faced men" in her chess matches, a statement called "manifestly false" by the lawsuit.

The papers for the suit note "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". The lawsuit goes on to allege Netflix had been aware of these facts from Gaprindashvili's legendary career, not least from the novel the series is based on. The line from the episode is called "grossly sexist and belittling".

The team of lawyers has also alleged "additional insult to injury" in the series through its reference to the Georgian champion as Russian.

Georgian law firm BLB has been involved in filing the lawsuit along with their United States-based colleagues since early this year. Maisuradze said the company's responses to the lawsuit had become "very arrogant" since the series earned two awards in this year's Golden Globes in the US.