Kiwi chess champion was ‘chance’ player: Family mourn Sue Maroroa Jones, expires at 32


The family of global Kiwi chess champion Sue Maroroa Jones are in “absolute shock” after her death and say she loved being a mum and was excited at the coming of each of her children.
Maroroa Jones itched in the United Kingdom on May 11 after allowing birth to her second child and was recalled in tributes from chess clubs, friends and family worldwide.
A family spokesperson reports Maroroa Jones as an “accidental” chess player, telling the Herald she began playing when she was clasped to a club by her father at ten years old.
After a year, she represented New Zealand at Olympiads and championships worldwide.
“Sue’s Dad suddenly had to take her and her brother to the Auckland Chess Centre one day when a club member noticed Sue looking bored. He asks if she knows how to play, and she amuses him, resulting in Sue’s first place in her chess career.
“At age 15, she secured the New Zealand Women’s Chess Championship at age 17 and was the early female contestant to win the New Zealand Junior Chess Championship. At age 18, she receives her Woman International Master (WIM) name at the Oceania Women’s Zonal Chess Championship.
“She may have been the early Pasifika female participant to constitute New Zealand internationally in chess. She may have been the early Pasifika female participant to be given a WIM title,” her family told the Herald.
“She grew up in Ōtāhuhu, Auckland, with her parents, Suee Lee and Temu and brother, Andrew. A proud Kiwi, Sue acknowledged her Chinese-Malaysian and Cook Island background growing up in South Auckland.”

A Remarkable Chess Journey Cut Short by Tragedy

Maroroa Jones loved travelling, and her success in chess allowed her to see the world, her family said.
“These international adventures led her to encounter the love of her life, English Grandmaster Gawain Jones. They settled jointly in the United Kingdom and finally married in 2012.
“Although chess was a large part of Sue’s life, the family was an essential part of her life.
“A dedicated mother to Samaria and Daniel, she always desired to be a mum and was thrilled for the coming of each of her children.”
Maroroa Jones’ death came after Daniel’s birth, following a post-natal problem, according to – the world’s biggest chess website.
Her family told the Herald the cause of her death was still being explored, and they wanted privacy while it was reviewed.
As well as chess, Maroroa Jones was an eager rugby player, playing for Sheffield RUFC between 2015 and 2020 and was also an evolution officer and team captain.
She also loved home baking: “Sure was giving in sharing her roast goods with friends and family. You could always find lovely pastries or cakes in her home kitchen.

People gravitated to Sue.

“She often brought her Cook Island and Malaysian families together whenever she visited New Zealand and Malaysia. She was a charismatic person who was ready to help anyone.
“Sue’s friends appreciated her encouraging nature, seen as the ‘mum figure’ who offered counsel the way mums do.”
New Zealand Chess Federation president Nigel Metge said Maroroa Jones was “one of the hefty women chess players in New Zealand.
“It’s a mislay on many levels, a woman who had done well here and then … grow overseas and just suddenly clasp from us,” Metge said.
One mourner said, “Sue was the lavish spirit I was lucky abundant to call a friend.”
Her death was divulged by her husband on Facebook: “It is with great sadness and burly hearts that we report that my beautiful wife has passed away.
“She leaves behind a fond family who will miss her greatly.”
Her best individual performance was in 2014, an International Master norm in the British 4NCL included a “fine charge win” over GM Mark Hebden.

A Chess Champion Taken Too Soon

In an interview for NZ Chess magazine, presented on the cover in 2008, Maroroa Jones talked about her future in the game.
“I would love to speak that I’ll be around continually. But I’m unsure what the future will hold,” she said.
“I have good friends from overseas who are pros, and it would be unlucky not to see them. But I’m not sure if, in the instant future, I’ll have enough time to get as good as I would want to be to constitute NZ with all the little girls coming up!”
New Zealand Chess express in their obituary, “Sue to endure more than good ample to the end of her life. Her destiny was with one of those abroad pros, and she did us proud.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to bear Maroroa Jones’s husband and two children.
“Sue was well-loved by many; her death was an utter shock and is a big loss for her husband, kids, family, friends and everyone who knew her. She will be much missed,” her family said.

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Olivia Wilson

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