Jorah Soojay: The rising star of South African junior chess

Jorah Soojay

Jorah Soojay

Published May 9, 2024


Jorah Soojay is a 15-year-old chess prodigy, who has been strategising his way to the top since he first moved his pawns at the tender age of 8.

With a natural talent and dedication that belies his youth, he has spent years honing his skills, out-maneuvering opponents, and perfecting his game.

And now, his hard work has paid off. Soojay, of Ballito, has just been crowned the Under-16 South African Chess Champion 2024; a title that cements his position as one of the country’s most promising young players.

The grade 10 pupil at Ashton International College in Ballito said: “The SAJCCC is the South African Junior Chess Championships Closed and it is where the best players throughout the country get together to play in their sections to compete to qualify for international events and to be crowned the champion in their divisions.

"I competed in several tournaments in many places to increase my ratings to automatically qualify for this event. There were a total of nine rounds and I was the only one to be undefeated in my section and finished with 7.5/9, taking home the first prize. I felt overjoyed as it is a big achievement.

"My most memorable part of the tournament was honestly just winning and before the last round, knowing that no matter the result, I was still going to automatically win due to my lead.”

Jorah had played in numerous international events - such as playing for the Under-16 Olympiad team, which he had played for twice, once in the Netherlands and in Azerbaijan. He has also played in the World Youth Chess Championship in Romania.

“In addition, I have played in Greece twice, once for the World Cadets Rapid and Blitz tournament and for the World Schools Chess Tournament. I also played in the CommonWealth Games in India and other tournaments in Africa."

He said his biggest supporters were his parents, family and friends.

“They always want me to be the best version of myself and live to my true potential. My parents sacrificed a lot for me to achieve my goals. I am grateful to them, especially God for the things he has done for me."

His mom, Joanne Soorjay, said: "I’ve been eagerly anticipating this moment for years, watching my son pour his heart and soul into his passion for chess. His dedication, hard work and love for the game have paid off, and I couldn’t be prouder.

"Jorah embodies kindness and compassion and love, always putting others first. I’m grateful to God for guiding him and to my husband for his unwavering support and guidance. This achievement is not just his, but a testament to our family’s teamwork and faith."

“As a parent, I am grateful that my son has learned that in a world where every move can change the game, young Jorah has emerged as a true champion, mastering the art of chess with the precision and grace of a seasoned grandmaster, which he shall carry into other areas of his life," said his dad, Rajan Soojay.

Aside from playing chess, he enjoys playing soccer and basketball. His favourite subjects in school are maths, computer science and business.

Jorah will play in the upcoming African Youth Chess Championships in South Africa, as well as tournaments in Uzbekistan and Brazil.

His brother Josiah, secured ninth position in the Under-10 category, allowing him to be selected for the African Youth Chess Championships and Chess Commonwealth.