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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 20:11 GMT 21:11 UK
Chess prodigy, 19, falls to death
Jessie Gilbert
Jessie Gilbert had a place to study medicine at Oxford
A teenage chess champion has fallen to her death while competing in an international tournament.

Jessie Gilbert, 19, from Croydon, south London, fell from the eighth floor of the Hotel Labe in Pardubice, in the Czech Republic, on Wednesday morning.

She had been working towards becoming a Women's International Master and had a place to study medicine at Oxford.

British Chess Magazine editor John Saunders said her death had left all her fellow chess players in shock.

She was a lovely young lady
Rev Howard Curtis

Miss Gilbert was taking part in the Czech Open tournament, while on her gap year before going to university.

The English Chess Federation described her as one of England's leading women players.

She was just 12 years old when she won the Women's World Amateur Championship - the youngest player to do so.

Miss Gilbert, a former pupil of Croydon High School, was a member of Coulsdon Chess club in Surrey for 12 years.

Its president, Rev Howard Curtis, said: "She was a lovely young lady, she was very helpful.

"Though she obviously went higher and higher she always played for us whenever she could as a thank you for what we did for her over the years."

'Very promising player'

She had also got involved in coaching younger players at the Andrew Martin Chess Academy.

John Upham, from the Academy, said: "Everyone is devastated, she was such a bright spark in English chess and a very promising player."

Police are investigating how she came to fall at 4.40am local time on Wednesday.

Players at the Czech Open tournament observed a one-minute silence before the start of play on Wednesday.


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