Netflix’s Motion To Dismiss ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Defamation Case Denied
Netflix’s motion to dismiss the defamation case against its hit series The Queen’s Gambit has been denied by a US judge.
Chess master Nona Gaprindashvili has accused the streaming service of misrepresenting one of her “most significant career achievements.”
Gaprindashvili has an issue with the drama’s scene where a character falsely claims that she “never faced men”.
Her lawyers said the error had “tarnished (her) personal and professional reputation” worldwide.
Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit tells the fictional tale of female chess prodigy Beth Harmon. The series also features references to real-life competitors, including Gaprindashvili.
In the final episode of the series, a commentator compares Harmon’s achievements to Gaprindashvili’s but says the latter “never faced men” in competition.
Arguing their defence, Netflix said, “no reasonable viewer would have understood the line to convey a statement of fact”, according to legal documents seen by PA, as it was an “entirely fictional work”.
The service also added that millions of viewers would require “knowledge of competitive Soviet chess in the 1960s” to understand the alleged defamation.
Netflix moving to dismiss the case, argued that the First Amendment afforded broad artistic license to the show’s creators.
On Thursday, a California Central District Court judge ruled that there had been no evidence of any cases “precluding defamation claims for the portrayal of real persons in otherwise fictional works”.
Adding: “On the contrary, 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.”
Gaprindashvili’s lawyers, however, pointed out that she had, in fact, become the first woman in history to be given the honour and rank of International Chess Grandmaster.
“During [Gaprindashvili’s] career, she encountered severe prejudice because she was a woman and often the only woman competing amongst men,” they wrote in legal papers filed in the US.
“When the series aired, multiple news outlets and various individual internet users commented on the inaccuracy of the line.”
The document reads that Gaprindashvili believes the show “misrepresented one of (her) most significant career achievements… before millions of viewers worldwide” and also “tarnished (her) personal and professional reputation.”
It added that her reputation and brand was “inextricably bound up with her courageous efforts to face and defeat estimable male opponents” in a time when “chess was overwhelmingly a man’s world”.