30TH JANUARY 1987 – 26TH JULY 2006


Jessie was an amazing person. She was of course very talented at chess and many of her friends, from all corners of the globe, met her through the large ‘chess network’.

Jessie was one of England’s leading women players and had most recently represented her country in the national women’s team on board 2 in the chess Olympiads in Turin, 20th May – 5th June. Although her team debut had only been in August last year for the European Team Championships in Gothenburg, she was already a much valued and respected member of the team. She also represented England in the European Individual Women’s Championships in Turkey in April, 2006, where her fine performance earned her the final of three norms for the Women’s International Master title. Still a junior internationally, she has represented England every year at World or European Girls’ Championships since she was 12, in 2001 winning the bronze medal in the European Girls’ Under 14 Championship. She first came to prominence when she won the Women’s World Amateur Championship aged just 12, the youngest player ever to do so.

Jessie was fundamentally very talented. However, the qualities that set her apart as an individual from so many others, are those identified in the comments below and to which it is hard to even begin to put into words. However, to make an attempt, Jessie was loving, kind, caring, inspiring, courteous, modest, self-effacing, warm, gentle, helpful, loyal, fun… truly a wonderful girl who will be truly missed.

Please feel free to leave comments below – they are of much comfort to all who loved her and serve as a fitting tribute to Jessie.

112 Replies to “IN MEMORY OF JESSIE”

  1. I did not know Jessie personally, I find it a comlete tragedy that such a bright young woman should be taken from us in the prime of her life. As previously stated, Jessie achieved more in her short life than many of us do after reaching old age.
    Such a terrible shame and a very, very sad loss to all who knew her.

    God bless you Jessie.

  2. I have not quite recovered from this tragic event yet and so to say the right things is not easy,particularly since I knew Jessie and her family so well and counted them all as personal friends.
    Jessie and I worked, trained together on chess for roughly eight years
    and so we became very close. She was making giant strides towards the WGM title,which she would undoubtedly have achieved.
    To learn of her death was a shattering blow. I miss her greatly and I won’t forget her.
    We can’t take anything in life for granted.


  3. I wish so much that i could have known jessie so that I could have been there to listen or to help her. I was a child chess prodigy so I dunno, I feel like I can relate…she looked such a nice girl 🙁
    I wish i could have helped… I dont know her but I wish she could have talked to me when she was hurting cos I went through similar things

    best wishes to the family,
    and rest in peace Jessie

  4. I met Jessie at the European Youth chess Championships in 2001, it was my first international tournament and she looked after me. Even though we had only just met, I found her so easy to get on with, she had a real sense of humor and was such a genuine person I always felt at ease in her company. It was there that Jessie won her Bronze medal and there she became my friend and idol. Jessie didn’t boast, despite having so much to boast about, she was exceptionally talented, determined and dedicated and achieved so much in her life. There aren’t the words to describe Jessie, she really was one in a million. Although we grew apart with time, I will always cherish the good memories of the good times we shared. Rest in peace. xXx

  5. Today is September 11, a very special anniversary for all Westerners, but like every day since I heard the news, all I can think of is you.

    Why Jessie?

  6. I was very upset to hear about jessie and unfortunately I couldn’t make the funeral. I first met Jessie properly in the WYCC in oropesa. Since then we played in many more tournoments together and had many good times. I’ve got so many memories of jessie that i can’t write them all down but would love to single out a few extra special ones.Her singing of the patzer rap was hilarious,Her obsession with buffy and the whole of the first crete WYCC truly memorable.
    Jessie was an amazing person one of the nicest i’ve met and probably will ever meet. The one thing I always think about Jessie is her laugh and smile they truly lit up a room
    Rest in peace

  7. I used to play for Coulsdon with her and always enjoyed our little chats. She was a very reliable solid player who generally got the result needed. I was very surprised to hear of her tragic death, its a shame she will never have the chance to fulfill her full potential in life which was obviously very high.

  8. I would like to first and foremost send my condolences to all of Jessie’s family. Jessie and I met about 6 years ago in one of the WYCC tournaments. We both loved soccer and would play between some rounds. We used to sing this song, “Jessie, c’mon, c’mon.” She loved it and we always smiled when we sung it together. Good times. I played for the US and she for England so we had a lot of good times together. I haven’t seen her in 4 years so I am devastated by the fact that I didn’t get another chance to talk to her, to make her laugh, and to just have fun together. One of the best people I have ever met in my life.

  9. Thankyou to everyone for all the kind and lovely messages here, as well as spoken/posted to us. Your support is helping to see us through these dark days. We miss Jessie so very much and find it so hard to contemplate the future without her. It is also with great sadness that we think about how much she could still have given the World, and how much pleasure she would have enjoyed in doing so. Please may I ask everyone to continue to help Sam, Anni and Josie towards an acceptance of their terrible loss, and to pray for Jessie to have found true peace. There is a void in our family which will remain for ever, but we are commited to living our futures for her. Thankyou Jessie for being with us 19 years.

  10. My first memory of Jessie and her wonderful family is when my son, Jonathan played her at London U12 Championship. They drew their game and subsequently were selected for National Squad at the same time. I always admired her quite, polite and confident personality. We were all very shocked and saddened to hear of her untimely death and wish to send our heart felt condolences to Jessie’s family and friends.

  11. Jessie didn’t know me but I knew Jessie.Scanning the score sheets mainly at Hastings I’de always look to see how Jessie was doing.In fact ever since she was bursting on the scene along the road in the the old YMCA! A star forever burning brightly.
    The McGowan family.
    Isle of Tiree

  12. Anni, thank you for the post above. Thank you all for inviting so many of us to share the day with the four of you yesterday. Yes, it did help.

    Sam, this tribute website is lovely. I hope that it’s a comfort to all of you. It’s certainly a comfort to me and to a good many others.

    Our thoughts and prayers remain with you.

  13. Im from Norway and met Jessie before occasionally though chess, but in a tournament in Greece I really got to know her better. She was so nice, funny and clever. We emailed for a while and she wrote me an entire mail written in norwegian, online translation she confessed later on, but still she made you feel special with stuff like that. When you live in different countries and dont see people for years you always think that you’ll meet up sometime, now it’s sad never having a chance to meet her again.

  14. I hope everyone who was there today at Jessie’s funeral found it helpful. I know I did. Please keep posting comments about memories of Jessie and other little things. Love Anni xx

  15. I am privileged to have known Jessie. She was a generous, caring and warm person. I was very shocked to hear the sad news: I was so looking forward to her entering the medical course at Oxford and of course joining the Varsity chess team. I hope she is at peace. I am actually abroad at the moment, so I am very sorry to be unable to attend the funeral.

  16. I heard the news of Jessie’s death with deep shock as I was working at my desk at home. Jessie took my daughter Meg to early chess tournaments before Jessie was famous. They were in the same maths group at school and Jessie and Meg have been to each other’s homes for parties and get togethers when younger. I emailed Meg with the news, as she is working in Fiji during a gap year. She was devastated and sends her love and deepest condolences to Jessie’s mum and sisters. She remembers Jessie as a gifted, intelligent and lovely person. Our hearts go out to Jessie’s family. We think of Jessie and wish her, her mum and sisters peace.

  17. Jessie was like part of our family. She was a good friend to my daughters, Vanessa and Poppy. I met her when she was 9 at the Chigwell chess tournament. We went to many chess tournaments with Jessie, the girls becoming closer and closer as they worked hard to improve their chess skills. I had the pleasure of looking after her during British and international tournaments and saw at first hand how she was becoming a superstar. She was always polite, cheerful and full of fun. There is a big hole in our lives now. She will be sorely missed.

  18. I was part of the England squad in Turin, and of course saw Jessie every day throughout the event. She was very lively and fun to be around. One night we stayed up and played perhaps 30 blitz games, one after the other, and since we had no chess clock we just played more or less instantly, both of us making jokes and laughing the whole time. It was hilarious! But she could also be serious and perceptive, and when she argued a point her confidence and reasoning seemed to belong to someone much older: it was always interesting to hear her opinions. I was playing chess in Portugal when a friend rang to tell me the awful news – I could hardly believe it. Now when I think back my fondest memories are of the night we sat up and played blitz, and Jessie’s quick-fire, spot-on humour, move after move. I will be playing chess in Barcelona on the day of her funeral, and my thoughts will be with her. I offer my deepest condolences.

  19. Jessie was a truly wonderful person who I was lucky enough to know when I was 7. We played for Wey Valley together and she was my idol! We have been abroad together ever since then and always have helped each other and had fun! My mum and I were devastated when we heard as Jessie was lovely and she had such a supportive mum and sisters who she was so close to. She will be remembered as an amazing person forever and will be in heaven with my brother Ashley !!!! We won’t forget you Jess and I hope her family can treasure the happy times!!!! x x x x x x x x x x x x x

  20. I don’t follow chess, and I hadn’t heard of Jessie till i read about her death in the paper. I think its the saddest thing I’ve ever read. She seemed like such a lovely girl, I’m sure her friends and family must be devastated

  21. Although I never met Jessie, I have been shocked and saddened by the news ever since I read about it and send my best wishes to all of you who were lucky enough to know her.
    All the wonderful comments I have read about her, and photos I have seen, are testament to what a beautiful, kind, smiling, warm-hearted girl she must have been. Much love and strength to you, Sam, and your whole family. I am saying prayers and lighting candles for you all. xxx

  22. I played Jessie in the 4ncl a year or 2 ago. I came away feeling that I had been lucky to make the brief acquaintance of an educated, intelligent and interesting young woman. I was dismayed when I read the tragic news in the papers. What an unbelievable shame and waste of a young life.

  23. I was shocked to read about Jessie’s tragic death. I haven’t seen her in many years, but I will always remember how kind and supportive she was to me when I started playing in Surrey Chess teams with her when we were younger. She was always very reassuring towards us ‘younger ones’ and immediately treated us as friends in a way that very few people can. I was pleased to hear from mutual friends from time to time about how she had continued beating everyone so easily to become a real star – basically continuing to do something that she loved. I unfortunately cannot attend her funeral, but I do want to send my deepest sympathy to her friends and family – especially to her mum. I don’t know if you will remember me (Jessie met so many people!) but you were always really kind to us during breaks between games, making the world of big chess tournaments a little less daunting.

  24. It was with disbelief and great sadness that I learnt of the untimely death of Jessie. My Dad rang me from work to say that he had read it in the paper and I could not believe that a life filled with such promise could be cut so short.
    I was even more upset to learn that she had gained a place at Oxford to study medicine as that is where I am currently studying and I know she would have enjoyed every minute of it.
    I will forever remember Jessie as a warm, extremely talented and kind individual. She never had a bad word to say about anybody and was always very supportive and genuine. It was her great modesty and humble nature, however, which really struck me. She was so talented yet never let it go to her head. Ever since I started playing chess I looked up to her and she was, and always will be, an incredible role model for womens chess.
    My family and I send our deepest condolences to her family. Jessie’s incredible life and all she achieved ensures that her memory will always live on.

  25. I was shocked to hear and read about Jessie’s sudden death and send my warmest condolensces to her family and friends.
    I have played lots of the same tournaments as Jessie (starting with youth world- and european championships, and later also women tournaments) and occasionally talked to her, but what I knew from her was that she was a very nice and warm person. Just a few days before the horrible day, I was talking about her to my boyfriend, because I saw her name on the participation list of the Badalona Open in Spain. I came back from there yesterday, and she would have loved it.
    I wish her family lots of strength and I am sorry not to come to her funeral.

    Bianca – The Netherlands

  26. Thank you so much to everyone who has left comments…I know they are a help to my whole family and I am sure Jessie would be pleased that so many people all over the world cared (and still do) about her. I hope people all over the world can help us in keeping Jessie’s memory alive. Please continue to leave comments. Anni xxxx

  27. I only ever met Jessie once or twice but the first time I met her she immediately put a smile on my face and I liked her straight away. She was a strong character. She was bright, bubbly and she was just fantastic to be around, just like her sister, Anni. The way Anni talked about her at school I felt I really knew her. I remember reading the story on the Friday morning after Jessie’s death. I was just flicking through not really reading the paper… then I saw this familiar smiling face. As I read the headline I thought, ‘No. No… it can’t be. It’s not true’. But the harsh reality was that it was true. I couldn’t believe it. Why? I wouldn’t wish this kind of thing on anyone but why Jessie? No one knows why these things happen but Jessie’s memories will live on and I will never forget her. Thats a promise. xx

  28. I only knew Jessie by sight, really, at the Coulsdon club and I played against her in one tournament there in which she won with consumate ease. I was shocked and saddened to hear this tragic news – such a talented and good-spirited young lady is a terrible loss to us all. Both personally and on behalf of Dulwich Chess Club, I wish to send my condolences to all Jessie’s family and friends.

  29. Thank you all for your kind words. At this time, it is of the deepest comfort to hear kind words said about Jessie. She truly was one in a million. Please, everyone, continue to leave your messages, however brief or long. I’ll have the blog up and running soon, so it’ll be easier to discuss Jessie then. Eternal peace to you all, especially Jessie.

  30. I remember meeting Jessie at the world youth held in sunny Oropesa del Mar. Unlike a lot of the people there, Jessie never hesitated to come over and talk, chat, and smile. I remember going to the beach with her and some of the English team and having such a fun relaxing afternoon. She never had a bad word or complaint to say about anyone and was always up to play pool and chill between rounds. I wish I had gotten to spend more time with her at the last world youth, in Belfort, the last time i saw her, unfortunately our hotels were very far apart because that year the tournament was not organized to unite the players. I wish I could attend her funeral but cannot so I leave this comment. When I think of the warm awesome people that I met from chess, her name does, and will always come up. I send my condolences to all those who were lucky to know her.

  31. I first met Jessie in 2000 when i played against her in WYCC in spain. However it was in following years I got to know her, many of my happiest memories involve the time I spent with her at various worlds. She was always so full of life, and whether it was hanging round chatting before a game, or on the dancefloor at 4 in the morning, she was a wonderful person to be around.
    rest in peace Jessie, thank you for all the memories, you will always be missed

  32. I didn’t know Jessie at all, I just heard of her because her sister is my cousin’s girlfriend.

    Anyway, I can tell from the pictures that Jessie was a sympathetic, intelligent and life loving girl, unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet her before this vast tragedy came about.

    I hope you feel better where you are now Jessie, rest in peace !

  33. I first met Jessie in the Coventry International in 2005. I was initially impressed by her chess, but even more by her vibrant personality. A free “untamed” spirit, overflowing with grace and charisma, strong, determined added with the rare gift of “empathy”.

    It is this portrait of Jessie that everyone should remember.

  34. I had the good fortune of spending an evening in Jessie’s company and was charmed by her warmth, her intelligence and her complete lack of arrogance.
    She was a precious sister and daughter, a bright star on the firmament of chess, with a most promising academic future.
    She must have left a void in the Gilberts’ family life which will never ever be filled.
    Fear no more the heat of the sun, Jessie!

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *