U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips has ruled that Netflix must face a lawsuit by Soviet female chess player Nona Gaprindashvili, 80, who believes the show “The Queen’s Gambit” has defamed her.
Earlier, the streaming media requested that the case not be filed on the grounds that “the show is a work of fiction and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants its creators a broad artistic license.”
On Thursday, U.S. Judge Virginia A. Phillips explained that references to real people in fictional works may also constitute defamation.
In the final episode of “The Queen’s Gambit”, 1968’s heroine Beth Harmon begins a match against a number of male chess players in Moscow.
The Soviet commentator said: “In their opinion Beth Harmon is not on the stage, the only thing that is unusual about her is her gender. This is not unique in the USSR, we have Nona Gaprindashvili, she is the women’s world champion, but She never played against men.”
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Nona Gaprindashvili, 80, who filed a defamation lawsuit last September, said the line was “severely sexist and demeaning.”
She said she played against 59 male chess players in 1968.
“The Queen’s Gambit” is based on a 1983 fictional novel about the fictional American female chess player Beth Harmon defeating multiple chess players in the 1960s.
Lawyers representing Netflix believe that the entire show is about breaking down gender barriers and allowing viewers to recognize women’s achievements in chess.
But the judge argued that the line was a denial of the real achievements of real people and would give viewers the false notion that “Nona Gaprindashvili has never played against a male chess player”.
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