The Guardian Newspaper, 8th January 1999
Article by Leonard Barden
JESSIE GILBERT, an 11-year-old Croydon girl, yesterday became the youngest winner of an adult world title when she took the women’s gold medal at the World Amateur Championship in Hastings.
Germany’s Ingrid Voigt had the same total but had lost her game against Gilbert so was placed second. Monica Vann of England was third. The championship, now in its fourth year, is open to anyone without an International Chess Federation (Fide) ranking or title.
Gilbert learned chess at eight and her school, Croydon High, has several other talented girl players. She becomes a Fide master and is awarded an international ranking, both age records for a British girl.
She was reluctant to compete in Hastings because ‘world championships are special and I was frightened I would lose every game’. She lost three, including to Gaguik Oganessian, the new men’s champion from Armenia, and the No. 1 seed Konrad Scheffler, of South Africa.
Gilbert also plays tennis and hockey – she is a goalkeeper for her school – and she wants to study medicine. Her first act after becoming a world chess champion was to return home for a piano lesson.
Stewart Reuben, chairman of the British Chess Federation, said her victory was ‘the latest wonderful result for English girls’ chess: four world titles in 18 months on the tiniest of budgets’.