Chess-playing robot breaks finger of 7-year-old boy during match


A chess-playing robot broke the finger of a 7-year-old boy who was competing against it during a recent tournament in Moscow.

According to officials from the Moscow Chess Federation, the child continued his participation in the event after his finger was placed in a plaster cast.

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Both officials, in comments to a pair of state news agencies translated from Russian, appeared to place at least some of the blame for the incident on the boy.

“The child made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried, the robot grabbed him,” Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told TASS. “We have nothing to do with the robot.”

“The robot broke the child’s finger — this, of course, is bad,” added Lazarev. “The robot was rented by us, it has been exhibited in many places, for a long time, with specialists.”

“It happens, by coincidence. It is necessary, apparently, to warn the children additionally,” federation vice president Sergey Smagin told RIA Novosti. “It is extremely strange that this happened, but it happened, it happens.”

Baza, a Russian online news outlet, reported that the robot “grabbed the boy’s index finger and squeezed it hard.” Tournament staffers rushed over to help extricate him from the robot’s grip.

At the time, the robot was playing a chess match against three children at once. Baza described the victim as one of the “30 strongest” chess players in Moscow under 9 years old.

The child’s parents “want to contact the prosecutor’s office,” said Lazarev, who asserted his organization would try to assist the family.

The robot was familiar to chess officials, having been in use, according to Smagin, for approximately 15 years. He added that, to his recollection, it was the first time anything like this had happened.

Smagin said that there was no talk of banning the robot, but both he and Lazarev suggested its operators look into updated safety measures.

“It will be necessary to analyze why this happened,” Smagin said in Russian. “The robot has a very talented inventor. It may be necessary to install an additional protection system.”

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