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Video: Chess-playing robot breaks 7-year-old kid opponent’s finger

Chess board (Wikimedia Commons)
July 26, 2022

A robot that plays chess broke its 7-year-old opponent’s finger during a tournament in Russia last week. A tournament official said the boy tried to make his next move too quickly, so the robot “grabbed him.”

Video of the moment went viral on Twitter, showing the young boy struggling against the robot as spectators rush in to help.

Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the Russian state-run news agency TASS the incident occurred during the Moscow Chess Open, an international chess forum.

“The robot broke the child’s finger – this, of course, is bad. The robot was rented by us, it has been exhibited in many places, for a long time, with specialists. Apparently, the operators overlooked it. 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. We have nothing to do with the robot,” Lazarev said, according to a translated statement.

“The child played the very next day, finished the tournament in a cast, and the volunteers helped to record the moves. Moskomsport called now, the parents want to contact the prosecutor’s office, we will communicate, figure it out and try to help [the family] in any way we can. And the robot operators, apparently, will have to think about strengthening protection so that this situation does not happen again,” the agency’s interlocutor added.

Sergei Smagin, vice president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the Russian state-run outlet RIA Novosti that the child broke certain safety rules.

“This robot has been playing for a long time, about 15 years. Nothing serious happened, the boy then went to the award ceremony, signed (documents). Everything is fine with the boy. They put plaster on his finger to heal faster. Yes, there are certain safety rules, child, apparently, he broke them in time trouble and, when he made a move, he didn’t notice that he had to wait. This is an extremely rare case, in my memory it’s the first one,” said Smagin, according to a translated statement.

“This robot is unique, it performed at many open areas, where there were much more people. It happens, a combination of circumstances. It is necessary, apparently, to warn the children additionally. It is extremely strange that this happened, but it happened, it happens,” he added.

Smagin said there are no plans to remove the robot from future tournaments.

“It is absolutely safe. It will be necessary to analyze why this happened. The robot has a very talented inventor, it may be necessary to install an additional protection system,” Smagin concluded. “To be honest, I am not an expert in how the robot is configured, but the case is amazing, given how many events have taken place with his participation.”