Defamation lawsuit against Netflix over ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ will move forward

the queen's gambit

Popular Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit has come under a new spotlight via a lawsuit filed by Georgian chess master Nora Gaprindashvili, which a judge refused to dismiss Thursday.

According to Deadline‘s account, the $5 million defamation lawsuit stems from Gaprindashvili being “perturbed by the seemingly incorrect statement in the “End Game” finale of the limited series that compares her real-life accomplishments to that of [Anna] Taylor-Joy’s fictional Beth Harmon.”

Variety noted that Gaprindashvili, who built her reputation as a chess player in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, sued Netflix in federal court in September, challenging “a line in the series in which a character stated — falsely — that Gaprindashvili had ‘never faced men.'”

Gaprindashvili countered that assertion was “grossly sexist and belittling,” countering that she’d faced 59 male competitors by 1968, the year in which The Queen’s Gambit takes place.

While Netflix argued that the series is fictional in nature and that it meant no offense, the Variety article noted that U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips did not dismiss the case at the streaming service’s request. Phillips found “that Gaprindashvili had made a plausible argument that she was defamed,” and additionally noted “works of fiction are not immune from defamation suits if they disparage real people.”

The Queen’s Gambit, though a work of fiction, incorporates a number of real-life elements, including Gaprindashvili’s story.

The series, based on Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name, follows a drug and alcohol-dependent chess prodigy and her rise in the chess community. While the show received positive reviews and multiple award nominations, the line about the chess legend could prove costly to the streaming service millions of dollars.

According to Deadline, Netflix commented on the case by noting, “Netflix has only the utmost respect for Ms. Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career, but we believe this claim has no merit and will vigorously defend the case.”