Chess Is Now A Contact Sport Thanks To This Finger-Breaking Robot

Chess Is Now A Contact Sport Thanks To This Finger-Breaking Robot
Image: AlexLMX / iStock

Does the AI uprising start with Boston Dynamics beasts with handguns duct-taped to the top? Or does it begin with chess-playing robots?

As reported by PC Gamer, a 7-year-old chess player had his finger broken by a chess-playing robot at the Moscow Chess Open, which took place from July 13th to 21st. It is unknown at this time if there was any prior beef between the child and the robot.

The incident, which has been captured in time with a video posted to Twitter (and though linked, fair warning: it’s not gory, but it is a rough watch), occurred when the chess-playing robot was taking part in a game with the child, who was competing in the Moscow Chess Federation’s youth league.

According to the Russian news network TASS, the robot had just made a move that took a piece from the child. The child then attempted to make his next move quickly, apparently a decision that was ‘against the safety rules’. This resulted in the robot moving in and crushing the boy’s finger, causing a fraction.

You’ve got to wonder just what the safety rules were regarding this chess-playing robot. I can only imagine that the rules are probably ‘don’t move too fast, or the robot may attack’, or ‘if the robot attacks, make yourself look bigger to scare it off’. Who knows!

Thankfully, the child was able to continue playing in the tournament with a cast, but his parents are reportedly planning to press charges. In response to the incident, Moscow Chess Federation president Sergey Lazarev had this to say:

“The robot broke the child’s finger – this, of course, is bad. The robot was rented by us, it has been exhibited in many places, for a long time, with specialists. Apparently, the operators overlooked it. 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.”

Sergey Smagin, a deputy of the Moscow Chess Federation, also mentioned, “This is an extremely rare case, the first in my memory,” and that the robot has been playing chess for roughly 15 years. Interesting stuff!

Chess is not normally considered a contact sport, or even a game that normally results in physical injuries. That being said, remember to move slowly and not to make any jolting movements when playing chess with a chess-playing robot. They may be able to smell your fear.


  • Every sport is full contact when their are individuals that are sore losers, even chess… throwing chess pieces and water, to full on brawls, stabbings and shootings.

  • I imagine the safety rule would’ve been something like, you can’t make a move/enter the board until the bot has returned to its starting/finish position.
    Pretty half arsed for a interacting with an industrial grade robot.

    By the looks the robot removed the piece and then wrongly identified the kids finger as the same piece still being present, prompting it to remove it again.
    In defence of our possible future overlord, it appears to have stopped when the feedback didn’t match a chess piece.

  • The biggest fail here is seem that the operator doesn’t have a big red button Kill Switch on that thing, its an industrial piece of equipment near a child and seems two people with one touch pad can’t control the damn thing.

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