Grandmaster Mackenzie Molner
Grandmaster Mackenzie Molner, known to his friends and students as just Mac, was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. He started playing chess at the age of seven, when he caught the chess bug at a summer camp. When the games at camp continued at home, his parents realized pretty quickly that they needed to find Mac some new competition or they would never be allowed to get up from the chess board. New opponents and friends were found first at an afterschool program, and then a club. Classes and tournaments eventually followed. Mac’s talent attracted the attention of Michael Khodarkovsky, an internationally renowned chess coach whose expertise helped Mac break out into the fierce competitor he became. Backed by his new coach, with whom Mac would continue to study until college, Mac continued to achieve individual and team success throughout his scholastic career, winning the K-3 state championship in third grade, a national team championship in 8th grade, first place in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, and many other strong finishes at the state and national level.
While a fulltime student at New York University, his academic studies did not slow down Mac’s chess career. He was invited to play in the World Junior Championship held in Yerevan, Armenia in 2007 and quickly became known for his daring, tactical games, earning the title of International Master while still in college. As he continued to play professionally, Mac moved to Arizona for several years where he headed several afterschool programs and privately coached chess players with a wide range of skill levels and ages. As he continued to see personal success in his own career, achieving the Grandmaster title and competing in prestigious tournaments such as the US Championship, Mac’s students and school teams also saw enormous success! Mac coached the World Youth Team in the UAE where one of his students went on to win the Gold Medal with a nearly perfect score. In 2015 his school programs won 1st place in the State Scholastic Championship in all divisions, from grades K-1 through K-9. Mac recently returned to his hometown, leaving Arizona with an even more thriving chess community than he had found there, and he is excited to continuing teaching, playing and building a chess community in the area in which first learned to move the pieces.