Chess Robot Breaks Seven Year Old's Finger, Tourney Official Blames Kid

·2-min read
Apex Legends' Pathfinder robot makes a sad face on its display screen.
Apex Legends' Pathfinder robot makes a sad face on its display screen.

Last week a child was playing chess against a robot when, in the words of one official, something “of course bad” happened. According to Russian media reports and a video of the incident, the robot pinched the seven-year-old’s finger and fractured it. Not great!

The attack, malfunction, or whatever you want to call it happened at the Moscow Open last week, The Guardian reports. A boy named Christopher, one of the top 30 best chess players in the under-nines division was playing a crane-shaped mechanical arm and quickly trading moves when the accident occurred.

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According to Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, the boy interrupted the robot’s turn. It had just taken a piece when the boy then rushed to move again before the robot had finished. Once nearby adults realized what was happening, they intervened to try and free the kid.


Chess robot breaks finger of opponent during a match at Moscow open | Latest English News | WION

“There are certain safety rules and the child, apparently, violated them. When he made his move, he did not realize he first had to wait,” Chess Federation vice president Sergey Smagin told the Baza Telegram channel. “This is of course bad,” Lazarev said.

The officials say the robot completed previous matches that day, as well as at previous exhibitions, without incident. In addition, based on the video footage, it does look like the child tried to move pieces while the robot arm was still in motion. At the same time, chess prodigy or no, what else would you expect from a seven-year-old?

While Christopher’s finger was fractured and put into a plaster cast, he still completed the tournament with volunteers helping to annotate his moves. While Russian chess officials maintain the robot is still “absolutely safe,” The Guardian reports that the child’s parents may be pursuing legal action with the public prosecutor’s office.

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