The real Chess Queen sues Netflix over a joke about her

The Queen of Sacks was a huge success, quickly becoming the most viewed miniseries ever on Netflix, and the face of Anya-Taylor Joy, the actress who played the protagonist Beth Harmon, was one of those who marked the 2020. The drama tells the rise of the young chess player on the international stage at the turn of the years 60 and ’70, and one of the themes is that of the confrontation between a woman and an almost exclusively male environment.

A true “chess queen” though , or Nona Gaprindashvili, Georgian champion , accuses Netflix of having moved her a ‘ offense of a sexist nature, and filed a lawsuit seeking compensation of 5 million dollars from the streaming platform.


The Gaprindashvili, in fact, was mentioned in the course of the seventh and last episode of the series, the one that sees Beth Harmon confronting the fictional world champion Vasily Borgov. The Queen of Chess mixes invention and reality, and for this reason at one point the commentator of the challenge, referring to Beth, quotes Gaprindashvili. But in terms that are neither accurate nor particularly flattering:

The only unusual thing about her, in fact, it is her sex. And this is also not an exception in Russia. There is Nona Gaprindashvili, but she is the women’s world champion and has never faced men.

The true chess champion resented for a good reason: it is absolutely not true that she, at the time, had never faced a male challenger, indeed. In 1968, that is the year in which the stage fiction is set, Gaprindashvili had already faced 59 players of the other sex, and at least ten of these were Grand Masters.

For this reason, the chess player believes that she has suffered enormous damage to her image in front of an immense international audience, and that she is therefore entitled to compensation commensurate with the wrong suffered. Moreover, the screenwriters have for some reason stained themselves with another inaccuracy, suggesting that Gaprindashvili was Russian, when she is Georgian.


The paradox is that Netflix, to make the character Beth Harmond shine (who is practically the only non-two-dimensional in the series), and in particular to highlight her enterprise as a woman in a world of men, and therefore in general to a discourse of gender equality, has belittled the exploits of a true champion. To enhance the fake heroine, the real one has been downsized. It would also seem that Nona Gaprindashvili, according to what she said herself, contacted the platform to ask for a retraction and an apology, but remained unheard.

As for the cause, Netflix, on the other hand, has already moved by releasing an official note:

Netflix has the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and for his illustrious career – said a spokesperson for the streaming giant in an official note – but we believe that this request for compensation has no value and we will defend ourselves vigorously in court.

In short, the pieces are on the board, and the game could be long: for sure, by now it will be played in court.

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