A California court has ruled that fiction can be sued for defamation if it harms real people. This decision confirms the legal action of the international grandmaster, who believes that his reputation has been tarnished by the scenario of the series with Anya Taylor-Joy. She is seeking $5 million in damages.
For her, Beth Harmon, the prodigious chess champion of the Ladies game, is not the first woman in history to have subdued the most worthy male representatives of the king of games on the chessboard. In September, Nona Gaprindashvili, living legend in Georgia, the first woman to obtain the supreme title of international grandmaster, filed a complaint against Netflix because she believed that the series The Queen’s Gambit had not only ignored historical truth but had also seriously tarnished her reputation as an expert in 64-square strategy.
Today, nearly six months after her complaint was filed, a Los Angeles judge ruled it admissible. This decision, heavy with jurisprudential consequences on the right of an author to recompose historical truth for scriptwriting purposes, therefore allows the Georgian champion to continue her fight before the American courts. The challenge is intellectual but also financial since Nona Gaprindashvili is claiming $ 5 million from Netflix in damages.
In the series, a character claims that the Georgian champion “has never faced men” in competition, unlike the fictional heroine of the Ladies game, the American Beth Harmon played by Anya Taylor-Joy. This allegation against Nona Gaprindashvili “is blatantly false, as well as grossly sexist and denigrating”, specifies the complaint filed last September by the champion, now 80 years old.
The complaint recalls that Nona Gaprindashvili, who in 1978 became the first female chess grandmaster in history, had already faced dozens of leading male players in 1968, the year in which The lady’s game is supposed to take place.
Netflix denied having wanted to offend the champion and assured in a press release that it had “the greatest respect for Nona Gaprindashvili and her illustrious career”. The platform had however at the time judged this complaint without “no basis”, arguing that it is a work of fiction protected by the US Constitution and its First Amendment which guarantees freedom of expression.
In a decision handed down on January 27, Californian judge Virginia Phillips ruled that a work of fiction was not immune from lawsuits for defamation if it harmed real people.
64 million spectators for a series on 64 boxes
Born in 1941 in Zugdidi, western Georgia, Nona Gaprindashvili has been playing chess since the age of 13. She won the women’s world championship aged 20 and successfully defended her title four times, before losing her crown in 1978 to another 17-year-old Georgian, Maia Tchibourdanidze.
It is not insignificant to recall that during its first broadcast, The Queen’s Gambit (The lady’s game) broke audience records with some 64 million viewers worldwide in the space of four weeks. A real phenomenon, this series, carried by the masterful composition of Anya Taylor-Joy, won eleven Emmy Awards. A performance worthy of the chess exploits of Bobby Fischer and also, perhaps, of… Nona Gaprindashvili.
A ferocious attack on the king led by Nona Gaprindashvili commented on