The streaming giant is accused of misrepresenting “one of the most important professional achievements” of chess master Nona Gaprindashvili.
She took issue with a line from the drama where a character falsely claims she “never faced men.”
The lawyers said the mistake had “tarnished (his) personal and professional reputation” around the world.
The Queen’s Gambit, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, is the fictionalized story of chess prodigy, Beth Harmon. However, it does feature references to actual competitors, including Gaprindashvili.
In the final episode, a commentator compares Harmon’s accomplishments to Gaprindashvili’s, but says the latter “has never faced men” in competition.
Netflix said “no reasonable viewer would have understood the line to convey a statement of fact,” according to legal documents seen by PA, because it was an “entirely fictional work.”
He added that the show’s millions of viewers would need “a knowledge of competitive Soviet chess in the 1960s” to understand the alleged defamation.
Netflix sought to have the case thrown out, arguing that the First Amendment granted broad artistic license to the show’s creators.
However, on Thursday, a California Central District Court judge said there had been no case evidence “ruling out defamation suits for depictions of real people in otherwise fictional works.”
Adding: “To the contrary, the fact that the series is a work of fiction does not insulate Netflix from liability for defamation if all the elements of defamation are otherwise present.”
Gaprindashvili’s lawyers noted that she actually became the first woman in history to receive the honor and rank of international chess grandmaster.
“During [Gaprindashvili’s] career, she suffered severe prejudice because she was a woman and often the only woman to compete among men,” they wrote in court documents filed in the United States.
“When the series aired, several media outlets and various netizens commented on the inaccuracy of the line.”
Gaprindashvili, according to the document, believes that the show “misrepresented one of (his) most important professional achievements… in front of millions of viewers around the world” and also “tarnished (his) personal and professional reputation. “.
He said his reputation and brand were “inextricably linked to his courageous efforts to face and defeat esteemed male opponents” at a time when “chess was overwhelmingly a man’s world”.