In Russia, they like to play chess. And they take their chess very seriously. Play by our rules or things could get violent. Even their robot players are susceptible to it.
The Washington Post reports today that a Russian robot was playing three games of chess at the same time with three different children in a Chess Tournament in Moscow recently. All three children were among the “30 strongest” chess players in Moscow under nine years of age.
The Russian news outlet Baza reported that one of the three children, a seven year old boy, made his chess move and waited for the robot to respond with its chess move. But the robot took longer to make its move than what was acceptable to the boy. So, the boy grew impatient. How many of us chess wizards have not had that happen? When it does, it’s a good idea to bring out the 3-minute egg timer.
The boy then reached out his hand, as if to make a move, and the robot quickly grabbed the child’s index finger and squeezed it until it broke.
Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told TASS, “The child made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer. But the boy hurried, and the robot grabbed him. We have nothing to do with the robot.” So, it was the kid’s fault, eh?
Mr. Lazarev continued, “The robot broke the child’s finger — this, of course, is bad.” Huh, yeah! Lazarev added, “The robot was rented by us. It has been exhibited in many places, for a long time, with specialists.” Indeed, that particular robot is a veteran; it’s been been playing chess in Russia for 15 years.
And there was no reporting on whether or not the seven-year old cried. Apparently he didn’t, because the incident didn’t stop him. Someone quickly put the child’s broken finger in a plaster cast, and this tough Russian kid continued playing chess. Neither did the reporting say if the boy kept playing with that same robot.
The boy’s parents said they will press charges. Against who, the robot? They said they “want to contact the prosecutor’s office.”
Authorities said they won’t ban the robot, but will try to reprogram it. Good idea. Better yet, you Russians should try that on your President Vladimir Putin. Have Russian military doctors do it, and call it a “special military operation.”