Netflix faces ‘Queen’s Gambit’ libel lawsuit, under US judge’s rules

A Georgian former world chess champion’s $5 million (roughly Rs 37.5 crore) lawsuit against Netflix will continue after she claimed she was defamed in an episode of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, ruled a Los Angeles judge.

Chess grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili, 80, filed a lawsuit in September claiming a line in the show in which a character claims she had ‘never faced men’ in her career was ‘grossly sexist’ and depreciating”.

Gaprindashvili had faced off against dozens of male contestants in 1968, the year in which the hugely popular limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” was primarily set.

Netflix’s attorneys have attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that the series is a work of fiction and therefore covered by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which protects free speech.

But federal judge Virginia Phillips on Thursday denied their motion, noting that “the fact that the series is a work of fiction does not absolve Netflix of 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 the central character Beth Harmon is fictional, the series features several real-life chess characters, including Gaprindashvili.

Gaprindashvili was the first woman to receive the Grandmaster title from the International Chess Federation, in 1978.

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