A chess competition between a seven-year-old boy and a chess-playing robot took an ugly turn when the latter grabbed and broke the boy’s finger during a match at the Moscow Chess Open Tournament on July 19.
The robot was finishing its move when the boy reached over the board to grab a piece taken by the machine to make his own move, which was apparently against the safety rules. As a result, this prompted the robot to pinch the boy’s finger.
Sergey Lazarev, President of the Moscow Chess Federation, told Russia’s TASS news agency after the incident, “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.”
Further, Sergey Smagin, Vice President of the Chess Federation of Russia, later confirmed to the state-owned news agency, RIA Novosti that the boy’s fingers have been fractured but he is doing fine.
“The boy is all right. They put a plaster cast on the finger to heal faster. Yes, there are certain safety rules and the child, apparently, violated them and, when he made a move, did not notice that he had to wait. This is an extremely rare case, the first I can recall,” Smagin was quoted as saying.
The video of the incident, published on the Telegram channel of the independent Russian news site Baza shows the seven-year old boy struggling to break free from the robot for several seconds before a woman followed by three men rush to his aid and eventually free him. The video also shows the boy being escorted away once he breaks free from the robot. It’s still unclear what caused the robot to malfunction.
According to Baza, the boy’s name is Christopher, and apparently, he is among the 30 strongest chess players in Moscow under the age of nine.
Despite the fracture, the incident did not traumatize Christopher excessively, Lazarev told TASS. “The child played the very next day, finished the tournament, and volunteers helped to record the moves,” he said.
However, Christopher’s parents, are planning to take legal action for which they have contacted the public prosecutor’s office. “We will communicate, figure it out and try to help in any way we can,” Lazarev said.
Russian Grandmaster, Sergey Karjakin criticized the unfortunate incident on “some kind of software error or something”, adding: “This has never happened before. There are such accidents. I wish the boy good health.”