Netflix settles lawsuit with chess champion over ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in "The Queen's Gambit" on Netflix.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix.
(Courtesy of Netflix)

After months of mediation, Netflix settled a lawsuit filed by a Georgian chess grandmaster accusing the streamer of defamation in the critically acclaimed series “The Queen’s Gambit.”

Nona Gaprindashvili sued Netflix last year, objecting to a scene in which a commentator refers to Gaprindashvili while narrating a match between protagonist Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) and fictional Russian Grandmaster Viktor Laev at the Moscow Invitational tournament.

Gaprindashvili’s $5-million lawsuit challenged the show’s characterization of her never competing with men in chess in 1968, when the final episode takes place.


The commentator says, “There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men.” Gaprindashvili’s lawsuit said she had played against at least 59 male chess players by 1968.

To say she never faced men is “manifestly false, as well as being grossly sexist and belittling,” according to Gaprindashvili’s lawsuit, filed last year.

At the time, Netflix said her claim had “no merit.”

The settlement comes after a judge in January denied Netflix’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Netflix had argued that the series is fiction and the line “is not stated by an objective narrator, but rather as dialogue by a fictional character who is, himself, a part of the gender-segregated chess world that the Series depicts.”

Nona Gaprindashvili, the first woman to be named a grandmaster of chess, has accused Netflix of belittling her achievements in ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’

Sept. 17, 2021

“The Queen’s Gambit” won multiple Emmys last year, including for limited series. The show tells the coming-of-age story of a female chess prodigy.

Both Netflix and Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, Gaprindashvili’s attorney, said in statements that they were pleased that the matter has been resolved. Both parties declined to discuss the terms of the settlement.

“The Queen’s Gambit,” about a female chess prodigy (Anya Taylor-Joy), is exciting, entertaining and convincing — especially when it comes to the game itself.

Oct. 23, 2020

Rufus-Isaacs also represents Rachel Williams, a writer and former photo editor at Vanity Fair who is suing Netflix over how she was portrayed in the series “Inventing Anna.”