LOS ANGELES – A $5 million lawsuit brought in Los Angeles against Netflix by a Georgian chess champion who alleged she was defamed in an episode of the series “The Queen’s Gambit” has been settled, according to court documents obtained Tuesday.
Nona Gaprindashvili — the first woman to be awarded the title grandmaster — filed suit last year, alleging that a line in the award-winning series in which a character said that she had “never faced men” in her career was “grossly sexist and belittling.”
Gaprindashvili noted in the suit filed in Los Angeles federal court that she had faced dozens of male competitors by 1968, the year in which “The Queen’s Gambit” was set.
Terms of the settlement weren’t announced.
“We are pleased the matter has been resolved,” a Netflix spokesperson said, echoing a statement made by Gaprindashvili’s attorney.
Netflix tried to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that the series is a work of fiction covered by the First Amendment. However, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips held that works of fiction are not immune from defamation suits if they disparage real people.
“The fact that the series was a fictional work does not insulate Netflix from liability for defamation if all the elements of defamation are otherwise present,” Phillips wrote in her January ruling.
Based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, “The Queen’s Gambit” is the story of orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon who struggles to become the greatest chess player in the world during the Cold War era.
It became Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries, and won 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, including outstanding limited or anthology series, becoming the first program on a streaming service to win the category.
The title of the series, which premiered in 2020, refers to a chess opening of the same name.
Gaprindashvili, 81, is a Soviet and Georgian chess player. In 1978 she became the first woman to be awarded the title grandmaster by FIDE, chess’ international governing body. She was the fifth women’s world chess champion, holding the title from 1962-78.