* FOR PRESERVATION PURPOSES ONLY * Credit: Alexander Baron
Jessie Gilbert died in tragic circumstances 9 years ago today. It is difficult to believe so much time has passed, or that it was nearly twice that since I first met her when we played in the first round of a small chess tournament in South West London. She was eleven years old at the time, nearly twelve, and the shyest little thing you ever did meet, as well as the cutest. Less than three months later she was catapulted to fame when she won that historic title at the Hastings Chess Congress, far from her first and by no means the last she would win in her short life.
Jessie was born January 30, 1987, the second of four sisters. Some of the photographs you see here are published for the first time; there are a lot more, and should I live long enough, I will publish them on the 10th anniversary of her death.
At her funeral, one of her many schoolfriends said Jessie was the sort of person you meet once in a lifetime. I have been blessed to meet not one but several people of whom I might say that, including Chris Tame, who died earlier the same year. Although he lived nearly three times as long, fitness fanatic Chris was struck down by a particularly virulent form of cancer, and died well before his time. As I said, there have been others, but none so young, and none so tragic.