Russian Chess Federation Blames Child Whose Finger Was Broken By Robot During Match

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Russian Chess Federation Blames Child Whose Finger Was Broken By Robot During Match

Featured Image Credit: @xakpc/Twitter

The Russian Chess Federation has spoken out after a robot broke a seven-year-old's finger mid-match.

The annual Moscow Chess Open was held between Wednesday, 13 July and Thursday, 21 July.

However, on 19 July, the event came under scrutiny when a child opponent's finger was seized and broken by a chess-playing machine.

President of the Moscow Chess Federation, Sergey Lazarev, and vice-president Sergey Smagin have since revealed the organisation's stance on the incident.

Lazarev explained the robot was 'rented' by the Moscow Chess Federation for the event.

It reportedly played three matches before it took on the young boy.

Lazarev noted the robot had been 'exhibited in many places for a long, time with specialists' however, this time 'apparently, the operators overlooked it'.

He told TASS: "The robot broke the child's finger - this, of course, is bad. [...] 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."

Smagin similarly noted the child 'apparently violated' 'certain safety rules'.

"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.

“It has performed at many opens. Apparently, children need to be warned. It happens," he continued.

The vice-president urged that the robot is 'absolutely safe' and that the incident was merely a 'coincidence'.

Adults rushed to help the child when they realised the robot had his finger. Credit: @xacpc/ Twitter
Adults rushed to help the child when they realised the robot had his finger. Credit: @xacpc/ Twitter

However, the video triggered mass backlash online, with many questioning the safety of the technology.

One user interrogated why the robot had the strength to break someone's finger in the first place. "Why does the robot arm have enough strength to break a finger, when it only needs strength enough to lift a chess piece? Is it a standard industrial robot arm?" they said.

Another responded: "Robot programmer here. The robot looks like a Kuka KR6 series. That'a small size industrial robot with no collaborative or cooperative functionalities, it should stay behind a fence or a light curtain. Something was overlooked during the risk assessment of that robotic cell."

A final stated: "The robot arm doesn’t have a proximity sensor that detects human interaction with the pieces. The software developers assumed that humans would wait until it is their turn to move their pieces instead of moving the robot arm pieces. No fail safe sensors or software."


Lazarev updated that the child - who is one of the 30 best chess players in Russia's under-nine age group - returned to play 'the very next day,' finishing the event 'in a cast' with volunteers also helping him 'record the moves'.

The president resolved: "Moskomsport called now, the parents want to contact the prosecutor’s office, we will communicate, figure it out and try to help [the family] in any way we can.

"And the robot operators, apparently, will have to think about strengthening protection so that this situation does not happen again."

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Topics: News, Russia, World News, Technology

Poppy Bilderbeck
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