Netflix Must Face ‘Queen’s Gambit’ Defamation Lawsuit, US Judge Rules

A Georgian former chess world champion’s $5-million (roughly Rs. 37.5 crores) lawsuit against Netflix will go ahead after she claimed she was defamed in an episode of “The Queen’s Gambit,” a Los Angeles judge has ruled.

Chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili, 80, filed a suit in September claiming that a line in the series in which a character claims she had “never faced men” in her career was “grossly sexist and belittling.”

Gaprindashvili had faced dozens of male competitors by 1968, the year in which the wildly popular limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” is mainly set.

Lawyers for Netflix tried to have the suit dismissed on the ground that the series is a work of fiction and therefore covered by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects free speech.

But federal judge Virginia Phillips on Thursday denied their motion, noting that “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.”

“The Queen’s Gambit,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy, is based on a 1983 novel by Walter Tevis and tells the story of a young orphan who becomes the world’s greatest chess player.

While central character Beth Harmon is fictional, the series features several real-life chess characters including Gaprindashvili.

Gaprindashvili was the first woman to be awarded the International Chess Federation title of Grandmaster, in 1978.

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