David Leibowitz, 23, is the boy wonder of backgammon. Last year at his first major tournament, the World Amateur Championship in Las Vegas, David beat out 600 contenders from as far as Japan to win the Plimpton Cup (named after gamesman George Plimpton) and $129,500. "It never occurred to me that I couldn't win," says Leibowitz, whose victory disqualifies him from this year's tourney (its elastic definition of an amateur is someone who hasn't won $1,000 in a single game). A tournament bridge player while still in high school in Potomac, Md., David discovered backgammon while visiting an Israeli kibbutz in 1973. After graduating with honors in drama and literature from St. Louis' Washington University, he worked briefly for a commodity trade corporation in L.A., as a financial planner in Boston, and taught backgammon at $50 an hour. Then Leibowitz took this summer off to play the international circuit. Come fall, the young bachelor will settle again in L.A., playing private clubs like the exclusive Cavendish West and Pips. Leibowitz' economist father and his mother, a teaching specialist, are finally accepting, even though he is now contemplating a career in acting. They know his life credo: "I play to win, and if I found I was losing I'd stop," he vows. "I hate to lose at anything."
Kathy Carlson, 24, represents 35 different artists and craftsmen from North America and the Caribbean. They range from a menswear designer in Mexico to a Texan who manufactures birch furniture. She sells their goods to more than 100 of the country's top stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue and the boutiques of Rodeo Drive. Kathy takes 15 percent for the company she calls Above and Beyond and now bases in L.A. The daughter of a Navy pilot (her parents divorced when she was a toddler), Carlson got into the fashion biz at 16 while living with her mother in Coronado, Calif. Hired as a gift wrapper at a local shop, Kathy displayed such sophisticated taste that the buyer began taking her to check out new products. Carlson left for College of the Redwoods in 1973, but she dropped out the next year and returned home to join Kippy's, a chain of classy boutiques. "I was a little snit," admits Carlson, "telling everyone what to do and what to wear with what—at 19." On a trip south, she spotted the work of Louisiana's Sheila Davlin—accessories made of old Japanese kimono silks. When Carlson convinced Davlin to be her personal client, Above and Beyond was born. Kathy's job description, she cracks, is to be "a little shrink, a little mother and a lot of seller." But first she has to sell herself. Carlson's bottom line is, "I won't rep a line I wouldn't wear."