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25th Jul 2022

Chess robot grabs and breaks finger of seven-year-old boy after he “violated rules”

Jack Peat

The incident occurred during a match at the Moscow Open.

A chess robot was filmed grabbing the finger of a seven-year-old boy at the Moscow Open in a freak accident.

According to Russian media outlets, the machine broke the finger of the boy after seemingly becoming unsettled by his quick response.

Video of the incident published by the Baza Telegram channel shows the boy’s finger being pinched by the robotic arm for several seconds before a woman followed by three men rush in, free him and usher him away.

Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the TASS news agency that the robot “broke the child’s finger” during the incident, adding that the machine had played many previous exhibitions without upset. “This is of course bad”, he said.

Sergey Smagin, vice-president of the Russian Chess Federation, told Baza the robot appeared to pounce after it took one of the boy’s pieces. Rather than waiting for the machine to complete its move, the boy opted for a quick riposte, he said.

“There are certain safety rules and the child, apparently, violated them. When he made his move, he did not realise he first had to wait,” Smagin said. “This is an extremely rare case, the first I can recall,” he added.

The machine, which can play multiple matches at a time, had reportedly already played three on the day it encountered the boy, called Christopher.

A Russian grandmaster, Sergey Karjakin, said the incident was no doubt due to “some kind of software error or something”, adding: “This has never happened before. There are such accidents. I wish the boy good health.”

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