The Queen’s Gambit: Netflix Reaches Defamation Case Settlement

An ongoing legal battle between Netflix and Georgian chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili has come to a conclusion, with both parties reaching a deal in a suit centered on The Queen’s Gambit.

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pair came to a deal following a judge’s refusal to dismiss the case in January, leading Netflix to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was reviewing the case prior to a settlement being reached.

It’s unclear just what kind of settlement was reached, but in a statement on the matter, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, representing Gaprindashvili, told The Hollywood Reporter, “I am pleased that the matter has been resolved.”

The legal issue itself arose following the premiere of the hit series The Queen’s Gambit, where Gaprindashvili took issue with a commentator’s line in the series about her. The line itself refers to Gaprindashvili’s status as a female player, with the commentator noting, “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.”

In the lawsuit, Gaprindashvili claimed that not only was the claim that she had never played any men false, but that it was also “being grossly sexist and belittling.” According to Gaprindashvili, when that episode was set, in 1968, she had already competed against at least 59 male players, 10 of which were grandmasters — the highest title a player can achieve in the sport of chess.

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Netflix’s argument against the claim was that, since The Queen’s Gambit was obviously not a real story, that viewers understood the lines in the series to not be true since “fictional works have no obligation to the truth.” However, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips rejected that argument in January, noting that Netflix had acted with a “reckless disregard” for the truth by referencing to Gaprindashvili specifically. However, both parties chose to end things before more legal battles arose.


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