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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Family mourns chess star daughter
Jessie Gilbert
Jessie Gilbert had a place to study medicine at Oxford
The family of a young chess champion who fell to her death in the Czech Republic have paid tribute to their "exceptional" daughter.

Jessie Gilbert, 19, from Croydon, south London, was competing in the Czech Open tournament when she was found dead in Pardubice on Wednesday morning.

Police are investigating how she came to fall from her eighth floor window.

In a statement, her family described her as "much loved and an exceptionally talented chess player".

Miss Gilbert had been working towards becoming a Women's International Master chess player and had a place to study medicine at Oxford University.

'Good spirit'

A former pupil at Croydon High School, she had been taking part in the competition while on a gap year.

Chess players remembered her as a friendly person, who was competitive, positive and played the game in "a good spirit".

Until recently she had been living with her parents Ian and Angela and sister Samantha in Woldingham, Surrey.

Everyone is devastated
John Upham
Andrew Martin Chess Academy.

Her room-mate at the tournament is believed to have been the first to realise she was missing in the early hours of Wednesday.

She and some other English players were too distraught to stay at the tournament and returned home.

In a statement, Miss Gilbert's family said: "She was a titled chess player and had been competing in the Czech Open Chess Championships.

"Fellow British players in the tournament abandoned matches as a mark of respect."

'Bright spark'

They added: "She won the Women's World Amateur Championship aged 11 years and regularly represented England in international events."

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

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."

Miss Gilbert had previously written of her love of the game on the academy's website.

"I started playing chess at the age of eight and quickly became hooked on the game," she wrote.

"Since then I have always played as much as I can alongside school studies."


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