Young Giants, By Jake

My recent interview with MCG stated that he has to be one of the youngest Giants ever, but the Giants list has only been around since 1993.  I asked my favorite Backgammon historian, Jake Jacobs, if there were people younger than Matt that might have been considered a giant at younger ages, and I found his reply most interesting.  Jake wanted to be sure that everyone who reads this knows that this is all "off the top of his head."  (Jake has the biggest head I know, as Jake could write 20 pages on just about any subject "off the top of his head.")


The Giants list began in 1993, but that doesn't seem to be precisely what you are asking for.
 
In the late seventies Magriel had a number of students who were all considered boy wonders. Jason and Roger were two, but Billy was actually much older than he looked. I think that Eric Seidel was younger than Jason and Roger. Eric may have been 17 when he first garnered attention.
 
I think KG was born in 1952, and was also a Magriel protege who was highly regarded as early as 1977.
 
Nack was born in '56 I believe, and by 1980 was considered the equivalent of a Giant.
 
Sly was 21 in 1983 when he won the Plimpton. He followed that up by winning everything else he entered for the next decade.
 
PJ was 19 when he won Monte Carlo, I think. Though I saw a copy of his passport recently, and thought it said he was born in 1970. I first played him in 1997, and he was certainly playing at Giant level by then.
 
I met Gus in Vegas in 1993 or 1994, when he was 19. I thought he was not quite at Giant level then, but it was obvious he would be there soon.
 
Howard Ring played very well, very early, maybe as young as 16, but he was under the radar until he was about 30.
 
Craig Chellstorp and Greg Defotis were in their early to mid-twenties when they started gaining recognition as being top players. I don't know if Bobby is younger than they are, but of course they all came up around the same time.
 
Today with bots and the internet (and a much better library to study) players improve more quickly. In the seventies you had Magriel's students on the east coast, who advanced more quickly than ... well, the world.  You had some smaller clusters, such as in San Francisco where people learned from Papazian, or Chicago where they learned from Timmy Wisecarver, who was one of the first to learn from Papazian. But most people spent years learning. That's what made a Sly or a Carl Sellers so remarkable.

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