Why Netflix Was Sued Over The Queen’s Gambit

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Netflix struck gold in 2020, when the streaming platform released the period chess drama series The Queen’s Gambit starring Anya Taylor-Joy. The show received widespread acclaim for its storytelling as well as the actors’ performances.


Among the many accolades that the Scott Frank drama won in the 2021 awards season, it particularly swept multiple categories at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards as well as the Primetime Emmy Awards. In doing so, The Queen’s Gambit contributed to Netflix becoming the most successful network at the Emmys last year.

Within a month of being made available to stream, the show had also officially become Netflix’s most watched scripted limited series, and was topping the charts in multiple countries.

This was only the upside, however. One of the main challenges that the streamer faced from The Queen’s Gambit was a lawsuit brought against them that has been drawn out for the last one year. That suit – by one Nona Gaprindashvili – was eventually settled earlier this month. Here is everything we know about it.

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8 What Is The Queen’s Gambit About?

The Queen’s Gambit is the story of “Nine-year-old Beth Harmon, a shy, withdrawn girl [who] is sent to an orphanage after her mother dies in a car accident.” This is according to one plot summary on IMDb.

“She finds a purpose when the school janitor teaches her to play chess. She demonstrates a prodigious talent for the game and is soon competing at a very high level.”

7 Is The Queen’s Gambit Based On A True Story?

The Queen’s Gambit was adapted for television from a fictional novel of the same name. The book was written by author Walter Tevis, and was released in 1983 by the publisher Random House.

Scottish filmmaker Allan Scott purchased the rights for the novel in 1992 and eventually partnered with Logan writer Scott Frank to write the screenplay for the Netflix production. Frank also directed all the episodes.

6 Who Is Nona Gaprindashvili, The Claimant In The Lawsuit Against Netflix?

Nona Gaprindashvili is a Georgian-Soviet chess player who dominated the Women’s World Chess Championship with ten wins, six draws and no defeats between 1962 and 1978. She was also the first woman ever to be awarded the Grandmaster title by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in 1978.

Gaprindashvili was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2013. Today, the legendary star is 81 years old.

RELATED: Joe Rogan Praises Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

5 Why Did Nona Gaprindashvili Sue Netflix For The Queen’s Gambit?

Nona Gaprindashvili’s name was mentioned in the seventh episode of The Queen’s Gambit, where it was said that she had never faced men in her career.

The Georgian took exception to this, as she considered it sexist and “dishonoring to have misinformation spread about [her] achievements.” She consequently filed suit against Netflix in September 2021, demanding they remove the segment from the show, as well as a settlement of $5 million for defamation.

4 What Were The Terms Of Netflix’s Eventual Settlement With Nona Gaprindashvili?

Originally, Netflix sought to have the lawsuit by Nona Gaprindashvili dismissed. The defense lawyers argued that the case “had no merit” because The Queen’s Gambit was a work of fiction.

This petition was dismissed by a court in January, forcing the company to seek other means of settling the case. They reached an agreement with Gaprindashvili and her legal team in the first week of September 2022, although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

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3 Other Chess Players Have Also Criticized Elements Of The Queen’s Gambit

Nona Gaprindashvili’s issue with The Queen’s Gambit was personal. However, other chess players have also spoken out against more general elements of the show. Hungarian Judit Polgár criticized the depiction of male players as being “too nice,” something she said was inconsistent with the real world.

Andrea Botez and Sarah Longson also had bones to pick with some aspects of the mini-series.

2 But Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade Praised The Show’s Accuracy

On the other side of the coin, two-time US Women’s Champion and Woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade was impressed with the precision with which the show depicted the game itself.

“They just completely nailed the chess accuracy,” Shahade told Vanity Fair when reviewing The Queen’s Gambit in November 2020.

1 Is There Any Hope For A Season 2 Of The Queen’s Gambit?

The popularity of The Queen’s Gambit with fans can perhaps be evidenced by the show’s 92% average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Although Netflix set out to work on a one-season project only, there was clamor from fans for a second.

Unfortunately for those who dreamt of this scenario, Scott Frank revealed that this would not be possible “without ruining the first season.”