Qualification for the April Death-Match will take place at midnight between this coming Saturday-Sunday. Today I want to take a look at the leading players who have a chance at qualifying as of right now. (If you don't know the rules for qualification, they are here).
Here are some of the top contenders, though surprises are always possible as well, especially, as we've learned, in bullet!
If qualification were determined today, it would go to IM Eric Hansen. Hansen sits on a commanding lead: with a rating of 2793, and 144 games during the activity period, he is the only player over 2700 who has met the activity requirement. By the way, Hansen is the current Canadian Champion!
GM Jon Ludvig Hammer is one of the players I'd have my eye on here, as with a rating of 2723, he's definitely within striking distance of Hansen. However, he has only played ~60 games, so he would need to log a good number of games in the last 5 days, without letting the quality of his play drop off. And as I said before, I do think crazy things can happen in bullet. Even with five days to go, someone could somewhat realistically log 1 bullet game ever 2 minutes = 30 games per hour. Playing 10 hours of chess in a day would be normal for a professional, so 30*10*5= 1500 games. Obviously, if they were good enough, anyone who played that many games could catch up to the top rating spot, even if they were still unrated as they read this blog post!!
Now looking at the top list of blitz players, it's actually much more wide open. The top-rated blitz player, FM Evan Ju is on vacation somewhere with limited internet and has not yet achieved the necessary 100 games since February 15 (64 games so far). Of course, he is still an important contender, with his massive 2607 rating. If he does log the necessary games, there is a huge chance that he will be the highest rated. But at the moment, the qualifier would be... GM Jon Ludvig Hammer! Hammer is a ways down the list at 2423, but among the ~38 players above him, not a single one meets the activity requirement. Ludvig has played 111 games during this period.
One of the top other contenders is IM/GM-elect Conrad Holt, with 79 games and an impressive rating of 2539. If Conrad plays another 20 games this week, I expect his rating will end up higher than Ludvig's.
There is one other player who has logged the required 100 games, and whose rating is nipping closely at Hammer's heals-- IM John Bartholomew is just 14 points behind at 2409.
Again, I think a rating of 2400 could be quickly achievable for a lot of titled players, so someone could easily come out of nowhere in the next week and catch these guys, but right now we are mostly seeing an incredibly tight race between Hammer and Bartholomew.
If this comes down to a race against time Saturday night, with a bunch of contenders playing speed games down to the wire, I'll hop on chess.com TV for an impromptu show!