Johannesburg - A chess robot has broken the finger of a seven-year-old boy while playing in a tournament in Russia, according to reports from local outlets and statements by the Russian Chess Federation.
The boy has been named as Christopher by the Baza Telegram channel where the video of the incident was published. He is apparently one of the 30 best chess players in Moscow in the under-nines category.
It seems that Christopher played one of his moves too quickly during a match in the Moscow Chess Open.
While hovering his hand over the board before making a move, the robot arm reached across and grabbed the boy’s finger.
Baza reports and published video show that people were quick to step in and release him from the robot’s grip, but the fracture was unavoidable.
“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,” said vice-president of the Russian Chess Federation, Sergey Smagin. He adds that this is a very rare case and is the first he can recall.
President of the RCF Sergey Lazarev has said that Christopher did not seem overly traumatised by the assault. His finger was put in a plaster cast and he finished the tournament the next day.
According to Lazarev, the robot was rented for the tournament and has been used for many matches previously. The chess robot appears to be quite standard, and was set up to play across three boards at once.
It is likely that, like many chess robots, the arm was connected to the board to sense the state of play. Without an overhead camera or similar, the robot would have no way to detect the boy’s hand over the board and was blindly executing a move when it grabbed Christopher’s finger.
“The robot broke the child’s finger. This, of course, is bad,” said Lazarev. “The robot operators, apparently, will have to think about strengthening protection so that this situation does not happen again.”