Arjun visits his mega-sponsor

by Sagar Shah
7/16/2023 – What happens after a company sponsors a chess player? How does it find value in the sponsorship? This article puts down the story of Arjun Erigaisi and QuantBox. QuantBox is a High Frequency Trading company, which has made one of the biggest sponsorship deals in the history of Indian chess with Arjun. Recently Arjun met the members of QuantBox at their Bangalore office, and what happened is portrayed in the article below.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Arjun Erigaisi at the QuantBox office

Recently after the Global Chess League ended, I made my way to Bangalore for an event of Arjun Erigaisi at QuantBox. QuantBox is the company that has sponsored an amount of US $1.5 million (Rs.12,000,000) for Arjun's chess career for next five years. This is the highest ever sponsorship deal in the history of Indian chess. What I knew about QuantBox before my visit is that its founder, Prashant Singh, is an avid chess fan. But nothing more than that. I was very curious to see what this event would be all about. Arjun and his team (MGD1-his management firm and coach GM Srinath Narayanan) were going to be present there.

Arjun at the entrance of the QuantBox office

On 5th of July 2023 morning, we went to the QuantBox office. What I saw there simply blew my mind. Generally, when a company sponsors a sports player, they are very particular about the deliverables. A simul, Q&A, interaction with employees, publicity etc. Everything is perfectly planned. But here at QuantBox, everyone was chilled out. The first thing we did was sit down in the conference room and discussed the future of Indian chess. Meanwhile Arjun sneaked out to the adjoining room and started playing foosball and table tennis.

QuantBox has an entire room dedicated to relaxation

The average age of the employees at QuantBox is roughly 23-25 years. Most of the youngsters are fresh graduates from IIT and are brilliant minds. After all, High Frequency Trading is a complex endeavour, and you need the best minds to build your algorithms. Arjun instantly gelled with all the team members. In fact he even went for lunch with the team of interns rather than the management team of QuantBox!

Look at the interest on their faces!

Prashant Singh, the managing director and founder of QuantBox, was relaxed as he showed us around the office and told us about the chess connect at the company. Almost every employee knew how to play chess, and Prashant is an avid chess lover who used to play chess as a youngster. He explained to us what High Frequency Trading is and how it is similar to chess. HFT is all about creating a good model that will make thousands of trades in a few seconds. Whether you will make a profit or not depends upon the algorithm that you have written. There is no manual intervention. Prashant gave us the analogy of building the chess engine.

It was wonderful to know that Prashant is an avid follower of ChessBase India!

A dear friend and a big chess supporter Ashwin Subramanian, who lives in Bangalore, paid a visit to the QuantBox office with his daughter Anjana

Somewhere around 4 p.m. Arjun's planned simul with eight players was about to begin. When Arjun found out the highest Elo rated player was around 1400, he decided to make it challenging for himself. "I will play a blindfold simul", he said! He had never done this before, and we all were a bit worried for him, but he wanted to try it.

As the simul began, the young super-GM made a huge mistake. He told Srinath to play 1.d4 on all boards. Now, when you are giving a blindfold simul, it is extremely important to have a hook for each board in your mind. Arjun could have used the openings as hooks - 1.e4 for board 1, 1.d4 for board 2, 1.c4 for Board 3 and so on. But because he played 1.d4 on all boards, after four moves it suddenly became very confusing. On some boards it was Nf6 e6, on some board e6 d5 c6, on some boards Nf6 d5.

The setup of the Arjun simul. Arjun sat facing the opposite side to where the players were. He faced eight opponents and called out the moves, while GM Srinath Narayanan played the moves on the board.

Suddenly Arjun could no longer keep a track of what was happening where. He asked for a lifeline, so that he could get up and see the positions one time. As Arjun kept looking at all the positions again and again, we all got a bit nervous. We asked him if he wanted to convert it into a normal simul. But Arjun wanted to go on. He figured a way to find a hook for each of the boards around move ten and from then on it was smooth sailing. He won all the games without any difficulties.

The notebook and the few words that saved the day for Arjun!

Later when Prashant was asked what is the quality of Arjun that he likes the most, this was the incident that he recounted. Arjun was in a spot of bother when he didn't remember the positions. But he did not panic, but found a solution to the problem: noting down the important aspects of the position with a notebook and pen.

Here are the 8 games below each in replayable format:

The entire simul captured on video!

After the simul ended Arjun stood up on a podium and in front of around 40 employees of QuantBox gave an impromptu thank you speech. Everyone cheered for him and wished him the best in his bid to become the best in the world. I could literally sense that these 40 team members of QuantBox were now going to follow each and every tournament that Arjun would play!

The entire day of Arjun at QuantBox is summarized in this vlog

Five minutess to Prashant vs 30 seconds for Arjun! A very exciting battle!

We asked Prashant if there was one message he would like to give Arjun, what would it be. Prashant said, "I just want Arjun to be the way that he is!" What a beautiful relationship between Arjun and QuantBox I could see developing in front of my eyes. More than deliverables, there was trust and love. We often spend so much time in paperwork and contracts, but so little time in building bonds.

Find Arjun!

I am sure that after this interaction everyone at QuantBox loves Arjun and Arjun would love to promote QuantBox at every given opportunity! As someone who loves to see the chess ecosystem growing, this was truly a wonderful experience!

Interview with Prashant Singh, the Managing Director and Founder of QuantBox

In Bangalore I met Arjun, his team and friends. (from left to right): Sagar Shah, Manu Gurtu, Divya Gurtu, Sreekar Channapragada, Arjun Erigaisi, Srinath Narayanan, Prachura P. and Rakesh Kulkarni

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.