In 2005, when he was a 15-year-old King David School student, David Eldar became the youngest Scrabble player to be ranked in the Australian top 10.
Now back home in Melbourne after spending a decade living in London, Eldar has made Scrabble history again, but this time on the world stage.
The 33-year-old recently won the 2023 World English Language Scrabble Players Association Championship in Las Vegas, six years after winning his first world title in London, making him only the second player to become world champion twice.
He made the 2023 final via four days of qualifying rounds hosted by the North America Scrabble Players Association, involving 134 players and 32 games.
With a playing time limit of only 25 minutes per game, players not only had to be strategic, but apply their vast knowledge of vocabulary speedily.
Eldar faced England’s Harshan Lamabadusuriya in a best-of-seven games final series – the same opponent he beat to claim the 2017 world championship.
Unlike last time, this deciding series went down to the wire, and was live-streamed on Twitch.
Trailing two games to three, Eldar stayed in the hunt with a comeback win in a thrilling sixth game. The lead constantly changed, and Eldar was 18 points behind with only one move, and two one-point letters left, and used them to edge his opponent 477-465. He went on to win the last game 480-439.
During the series, Eldar used words including “thrimsas” and “sosatie”, and earned a crucial bonus/bingo move with “supremo”, but his strategic use of shorter words were arguably his best tactic.
Among words used by Lamabadusuriya were “teuchest”, “coyau”, and “epitaxes”.
Eldar said it felt amazing to win, and praised his opponent.
“Those were some brutal games, that could have gone either way,” he said.