A judge has the request from Netflix to a case over series The Queen’s Gambit to dismiss rejected. That means Georgian chess star Nona Gaprindashvili can sue the streaming service for lies told about her in the hit series.
The Queen’s Gambit is based on Walter Tevi’s 1983 book of the same name and is about Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) who, as a young woman, caused a furore in the predominantly male world of chess in the 1960s. In the series, a comparison is made between the character of Taylor-Joy and the person Gaprindashvili. During one of Harmon’s matches, the Soviet chesswoman is said to have been the women’s world champion and – like Harmon – has never played against men.
In her indictment, the now 80-year-old chess player says that this is simply not true. “The claim that Gaprindashvili has never played against men is blatantly false, as well as highly sexist and disparaging,” the 25-page document reads. In 1968, the year in which the relevant episode in which the verdict is made, Gaprindashvili claimed, according to her, ‘had already played against at least 59 male chess players, 28 of them even simultaneously in the same game. This also includes at least ten grandmasters from that time and three (former) world champions.’
According to the indictment, Netflix “blatantly and deliberately” lied about Gaprindashvili’s performance, purely to create more drama and highlight Harmon’s fictional performance. “Netflix thus ridiculed a real female pioneer who actually played against men and also beat them at the time.”
Netflix had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit because the series is fiction and the creators have artistic freedom. However, the judge ruled yesterday that Gaprindashvili has given plausible reasons to speak of defamation. According to Variety the judge said that fictional utterances are not immune to defamation if they involve real people in the story.
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