While chess is not usually a violent sport that results in injuries, last week’s Moscow Open played host to a match between children and a robot that was specially trained to play multiple games of chess at the same time. Unfortunately, when a 7-year-old opponent moved too quickly for the mechanical arm, it clamped down on the child’s hand, breaking one of his fingers, according to reports.
“The robot broke the child’s finger,” Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the TASS news agency after the incident. “This is, of course, bad.”
Video of the incident clearly shows the boy taking his next turn more quickly than the robot could process before waiting for the robot to finish its turn. This confused the machine, causing it to grab the boy’s finger instead of a chess piece. Authorities are claiming that the boy violated safety protocol, which led to the confusion.
“There are certain safety rules and the child, apparently, violated them,” Sergey Smagin, vice-president of the Russian Chess Federation told the Baza Telegram channel. “When he made his move, he did not realise he first had to wait. This is an extremely rare case, the first I can recall.”
But Lazarev told a slightly different version of the story, saying that the child had “made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried and the robot grabbed him.”
While this does seem to be a simple protocol error, the video looks scary. The robot almost looks like it grabs the child’s hand as a reprimand of sorts. It doesn’t seem to grab any other chess pieces that firmly and for that long. It’s kinda creepy.
Luckily, reports say that the child did not seem traumatized by the incident. “The child played the very next day, finished the tournament, and volunteers helped to record the moves,” Lazarev said.
Despite these reassurances, the child’s parents have contacted the public prosecutor’s office for legal guidance.