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. It hardly seems possible that it is 3 long years since you left us. It still seems like only yesterday. You touched the lives of so many people in so many ways. We shall never forget you.

    Peter Wilson

  2. Thinking about you, Jessie, and missing you terribly. I wish so much that you could have stayed with us, but please be at peace now. With all my love, Mummy xxxxx

  3. I read about Jessie’s story a very long time ago. I didn’t know her, had never heard of her, but her story captured me and I found her name echoing in my mind tonight. Though I’m a total stranger, I wish her all the peace in the world.

  4. Happy 22nd Birthday baby sister – I miss you every day and I always, always will. I love you xxxxxxxxxxxx

  5. Hi, it’s been a long time but i was just thinking of you all of Jessie and hoping you are doing well; she won’t be forgotten.
    all my love,

  6. I met Jessie a few times and she was unfailingly friendly and warm…it was an honour and a pleasure to have known her.

    I’m delighted her memory is being commended in the memorial tournament. Best wishes to everyone playing but especially to her family…my thoughts are with you.


  7. Thank you to everyone who has sent us messages and remembered Jessie this weekend especially.

    It really does not seem possible that 2 years have passed since Jessie died. She is loved and missed everyday by me and so many others. She touched so many lives and that can never be taken away. For that I am thankful.

    Love you Jessie, always always will

    Sam xxxxxx

  8. I can’t believe it’s two years. Thank you for everyone’s kind messages and lovely memories of Jessie.

    No, the World is not the same without her, and nor is it a fair or just place.

    I’m sure she is at peace now, but how I wish she could have been allowed to be happy here too. She was such a sweet and gentle girl, and deserved her life here.

    May her legacy be to help others who suffer as she did.


  9. Two years today, and it doesn’t seem quite possible. She remains in our thoughts. I was reading back through some of her emails to me and smiling at the memories – we had some great times, and I am so glad to have those memories. xxx

  10. It’s Jessie’s 2nd year anniversary today and still I feel soo shocked as when i first found out. I just want to say that I am thinking of her and especially her family who are probably still trying to cope. Jessie woud want us all to be smilling today and not grieving. Jessie was soo special and unique that she can never be replaced. I hope she is at peace and her family are too. love u always Jessie! missing you! XXXXXX

  11. It hardly seems possible that it is exactly 2 years since we heard the news of Jessie Gilbert’s death. I first met her when she was an 11-year-old playing at Hastings and we were drawn to play each other. The very polite, well-behaved and well-mannered girl should have beaten me and I was fortunate to draw. By the end of that tournament she had been crowned as Womens’ World Amateur Champion. I followed Jessie’s chess career over the years and for the last couple of years of her life we both played at CCF in Coulsdon, Surrey. I was an arbiter at the 2006 Olympiad in Torino and for the first time I talked to Jessie about topics other than chess. She simply bubbled with her hopes and plans for University Life … which sadly were never to be. I shall never forget her smile on the final day of that Olympiad and my last words to her were “Safe journey home – see you on the circuit” … but I was never to meet her again … she leaves a memory of a wonderful young lady who could and should have achieved even more than she did in her short life. God rest – Jessie – we shall not forget you.

    Peter Wilson

  12. I was so saddened when I heard of Jessie’s death. I didn’t know her personally but these photos just radiate warmth and generosity. So many people have suffered, and continue to suffer, because of abuse-this is what we all need to be reminded of, painful though it is.

    Rest in peace, Jessie. My very best wishes and thoughts to Jessie’s relatives and friends, especially as we come up to her 2nd anniversary.

  13. Thank you for these lovely messages and for the friendship and love you all gave Jessie. I miss her terribly too, and think of her every day.
    It’s hard to believe that it’s almost two years now since she was last with us. Sometimes I almost expect her to walk back through the door, returning from a chess tournament, and that I’ll see her beautiful smile again.
    It makes all the difference to her sisters and me to know that happy memories of her also live on in the hearts of her friends, and that she touched so many people’s lives. We were very lucky to have her.

  14. I often come on Jessie’s site as i think about her a lot and it’s comforting to look at the pictures and read the remembrances. I didn’t know her as Jessie the chess champion, but as a really great friend. I really looked up to her, she was so intelligent but also just such a great person to be around. I have so many memories of her growing up from sleepovers to D of E. I’ll never forget her smile, her warm personality, her great company and her laugh. I’m so sad that others havn’t had the chance to meet her, but this site has shown me how, in her short life, she already made such an impact. I will NEVER forget her and I really miss her and I’m so sad she is not here at Oxford with me.
    Sending all my love to Jessie and Angela, Sam, Annie and Josie.

  15. Thinking of you and all your family on what should have been such a happy day, the day when Jessie should have officially entered the adult world. So much sadness over what might have been, but gladness over what you did achieve in your short life.

  16. Happy 21st birthday baby sister. I miss you and love you always.
    With all my love baby girl on this day and always.
    Sama xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  17. HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY Jessie!!! Thinking of you and missing you, Love always Rina

  18. Dear Angela, Samma, Annie and Josie, I’m not sure what brought me to Jessie’s website this evening but I see that tomorrow would have been her 21st birthday. I will be thinking of her and of all of you. With love, Gill x

  19. Jessie,
    I must apologise for not knowing you before you went to join the angels. I have never been interested in sport or games of any kind. I wanted you to know though, that so many of us survivors have been with you, have believed everything you have said or done and understood you. My heart breaks for you and the pain you were in. I am a survivor and will never be entirely “healed” BUT TODAY I WORK VOLUNTARY FOR A PROJECT THAT SUPPORTS SURVIVORS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE. I also know that a pending court case can cause more pain, trauma, suffering and betrayal than anything you could imagine. I just wanted you to know Jessie we believed you and we cared for you and we really hope you have peace now, YOU DESERVE TO BE AT PEACE. sent with love from Gwen at Safe Space

  20. I didn’t know Jessie very well, but I had the pleasure to play her a couple of times during a couple of tournaments (she always beat me!), and we both went to Spain for the European Championships (2002?). I was deeply saddened to hear about her tragic death, and just couldn’t believe it. She was a very humble, dedicated and wonderfully talented girl, who I always found really approachable and a very kind person. It’s obvious just by all the comments here how many lives she touched with her lovely personality. I hope that wherever she is, she’s happy and has found some peace. My thoughts are with the family and her friends. xxx

  21. Today is the one year anniversary of jessie’s death. Even now i still can’t beleive it. I know that Jessie is still living through us, and all the people that loved her soo much miss her considerably. This must be a very difficult day for the family and my thoughts and prayers are with them. There is not one day that goes by when I don’t think of her, she was just so amazing. She had a heart of gold and was the most beautiful person both on the outside and inside. I miss her soo much, she was such a good friend and we shared many happy memories together. I miss her jokes she used to tell, her laugh, even her hugs she wud give. She will always remain in our hearts. She is an angel in heaven, and she is watching all of us, and guiding us in the right direction. I just wish she was here now so I could let her Know what a special person she was and still is.

  22. I played Jessie at the Coventry International tournament 2005, although the game officially ended in a draw I was totally lost in the final position.. After the game ended she was very friendly and only to happy to analyse it with me, even telling me at one point what a dreadful square I had elected to put my bishop on!.

    It was clear she was more than just an exceptional chess player she was also very talented and pretty with a super personality. when I heard the tragic news I was stunned .as she seemed to have everything to live for and who knows what heights she might have achieved in the future what a sad sad waste of a delightful girl.

  23. Even though it’s almost a year ago, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the crushing news. Our entire family (I am Heather’s dad – previous post) was totally devastated.

    I remember the hours spent chatting to Jessie’s mum whilst our daughters locked horns over the chess board, which they did many times – the first record of them playing I have is, I think, Braintree 1994.

    A lovely woman, completely at ease, whoever won.

  24. I played Jessie numerous times, and always found her to be a challenging, quickwitted and courteous opponent. I particularly remember playing her at the British Chess Championships in Scarborough 1999; there was an eclipse which could be seen best right in the middle of our game – that, and my memories of her will forever be inseparably entwined. I remember we drew the game – Jessie went on to become a much better chess player than I could ever have dreamed of becoming. I hope that, wherever she is, she has found peace.

  25. I somehow missed this link when I have looked at the web page in the past and am annoyed with myself that I did. I sometimes look at the web site still in sheer disbelief that it happened, even though we are almost 9 months on.

    I had the honour to speak at Jessie’s funeral and every now and again I have to re-read what I wrote to get my head round the fact that she is no longer with us. It was a strange day of loss on the one hand but mixed with so much positive thought coming from the fact that Jessie’s life, although so short in length, had been so full in impact. To see the church so full, despite knowing of many many other people who couldn’t be there (but who would like to have been) said everything. We not only lost a wonderful chess player in Jessie (and that has certainly affected the Coulsdon club) but we also lost a wonderful person, who only seemed to have good things said about her from every walk of life that she touched.

    There are many funerals I go to and hear things said about someone that people say and don’t really mean but they say it because it’s the done thing. In Jessie’s case, she was so remarkable that I know every word was meant and there was not enough that could have been said to justify what she meant to everyone.

  26. I never knew Jessie and I just happened to notice the news and tributes.
    I started balling my eyes out just reading about the horrible accident and such a terrible loss for the family and world in general. May G_D have a special place for her and my sincerest sympathies to the family.


  27. I just wanted to say that the memory of Jessie is still living on in many people’s hearts and lives. She was special in so many ways, and I was privileged to be able to get to know her when we played together. Still thinking of all of you, and thank you for this website – a truly beautiful tribute. xxx

  28. Jessie Gilbert is an amazing girl, unfortunately I never met her but I know and go to school with her sister.
    I have heard amazing things about Jessie, and she is a brave and talented girl. She lived a good life and achieved a lot.
    Rest in peace, Jessie and I hope her family know that there are a lot of people supporting and thinking of them.
    Hannah Percival x

  29. Thankyou Juan for your kind and insightful comments. Jessie remains a tremendous inspiration to us all. I also believe that her very “public” death is helping to expose the ongoing torment that many children are forced to endure. Although no longer among us on earth, other children are being helped by her.

  30. As a chess player and psychotherapist concerned with children’s experiences I have been moved by the death of Jessie Gilbert, though I didn´t know her personally. It also affected me to recall the 2005 tournament in Pardubice which I attended, though I don´t know if Jessie did. I think I must have passed often near the hotel where she died.
    I hope that her death helps society understand the terrible harm that is often inflicted secretly upon children and the need to improve the means to protect them.
    Juan Campos

Leave a Reply

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