Mackenzie "Mac" Molner
Born in Englewood, N.J., Grandmaster Mackenzie "Mac" Molner learned the king’s game at sports camp as a seven-year-old -- and two years later bagged the state K-3 championship. Taking heed of an early coaching tip, Molner developed a high-pressure attacking style of play in his young career, which frequently saw him ranked as the country’s top player in his age group. A win at the 2004 Denker Tournament of High School Champions confirmed suspicions, and by 2007 Molner was representing the U.S. at the World Junior Championship in Yerevan, Armenia.
“When I got invited to play in the World Junior Championship, that was a big, exciting moment for me: I had never played in a tournament outside of the U.S.,” Molner said. “That tournament reignited me, I would say. It made me want to work harder, to keep pushing.”
That hard work began to pay off in 2010, when Molner’s FIDE rating made a 150-point leap in the first six months. Later that year, he went on to claim his International Master title in glorious fashion: His performance at the at the 25th North American Masters in Skokie, Ill., was so impressive, it simultaneously earned him his final IM norm - as well as his first GM norm.
“It was something that was not on my radar at all, I just wanted to get my last IM norm and be happy with that, maybe finish out college,” Molner said. “But getting the simultaneous GM norm threw me a curveball - a good one.”
The extra incentive has recently snowballed into some of the finest play of Molner’s career, a continued upward trajectory that deems him more-than worthy of the 2014 U.S. Championship at-large wildcard. He achieved his third and final GM norm at the New York International last June, then underlined his new title with a tie for first at the 2013 U.S. Open in August. Padding nearly 150 points on his USCF rating since 2013 currently sets it to its high water mark at 2634, making Molner the 27th ranked player in the country.
Molner currently lives in Tucson, Ariz., after earning his degree from New York University in Romance Languages, with a specialty in Spanish (he also speaks German, French and Russian).