Chess a family affair for the Ellappens

03 March 2008

Going places: Rowan Ellapen wants to get more people playing chess.

When Rowan Ellappen learnt how to play chess from his sister Jenine, it was just for fun "because when you are young you want to play any sport".

But the UCT first-year business science marketing student soon found himself so consumed by the game that he has been a regular player from a young age, winning critical tournaments at primary and high schools - and he is still going strong.

Two year ago he was part of a South African invitational side that played in Greece.

"That was my first overseas trip and I really had a lot of fun," he said.

Doing well in chess seems to be a family affair for the Ellappens. His father was a good chess player and taught Jenine, who went on to become a Woman International Chess Master and UCT's Sportsperson of the year in 2005.

In 2000, Rowan was selected for the Western Province team and was part of the side that won the national championships two years later.

UCT recognised his potential and offered him a sports bursary.

With this year being his last as a junior player, he intends to challenge for the tough senior championships.

More importantly, he wants to keep the ball rolling and has begun coaching youngsters at his former school, Rondebosch Boys' High School.

"I got so much from chess that I would love to see the game improving and more people getting involved," says Rowan.

His next target is to help UCT win the South African Student Sports Union games.

"The incentive is that if you do well you will represent your country abroad."

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