Blog Post #1: One Family

 

Dear Readers,

Hello, and welcome to my very first blog, being posted in 2017 before I turn 55 on 13 June tomorrow! It is partly because I must soon say “Goodbye” to my great students and colleagues at a school where I have worked for 12 years that I now have this very precious time to write here for anyone who would like to join me on this fresh journey and adventure which, God-willing, will include lots of interesting stories and fun puzzles involving Chess, Math, word challenges and many other goodies! Though it can be sad to say “Goodbye”, it can… suddenly feel much more OK if we remember that “Goodbye” originally comes from “God be with you”, which to me is a beautiful wish to offer or receive.

Paul & Mum

My Mum with me on 31 July 2015

My wonderful Mum, the late Dr. Eileen Motwani (1935-2016), would have really loved to tussle over the coming brainteasers with us, for she thoroughly enjoyed exercising her mind with puzzles, but she is fondly remembered even more for all her love and kindness to everyone. She also generously supported good causes and organisations such as Marie Curie Cancer Care; St. Anthony Messenger magazine; RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), and others. My Mum believed in giving the very best that God had given her to give, and I will endeavour to do likewise with everything that I hope to offer freely via this site. The official motto of FIDE, the International Chess Federation, is Gens Una Sumus, meaning “We are one family”. Imagine what a happy and peaceful place our planet could be if the whole world were to truly practise that motto.

Word Puzzle #1

Make a proper seven-letter English word using all the letters of OBEY GOD.

Math Joke #1

How do you change seven from being odd to even?

Word Puzzle #2

Which six-letter English word should we think of when we read “Father and mother, I love you”?

Word Puzzle #3

Make a proper eight-letter English word using all the letters of I WAS BORN.

Math Joke #2

Where should you weigh a pie?

Father & Son Puzzle

If I tell you that my age, to be taken as 54 still, is equal to the product of my favourite whole number and my teenage son´s age (a whole number of years), then how old is my son, and what is my favourite whole number?

Word Puzzle #4

Make a proper twelve-letter English word using all the letters of

AT MICHAEL AT M.

Math/Chess Brainteaser #1

A normal chessboard is an 8×8 square consisting of 64 little unit squares. Imagine that only the white king and the black king are left on the board, but they are never allowed to be on the same unit square or on adjacent unit squares, next to each other. How many different positions are possible, with only the two kings left on the board?

Blank Chess Board

Solutions

Word Puzzle #1: OBEY GOD gives GOODBYE.

Math Joke #1: Deleting the S from SEVEN makes it EVEN!

Word Puzzle #2: The first letters of the words Father And Mother I Love You

spell FAMILY.

Word Puzzle #3: I WAS BORN gives RAINBOWS.

That’s long been one of my favourite little puzzles, and the answer gives interesting food for thought.

Math Joke #2: Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high (sounds like weigh a pie!).

Father & Son Puzzle: 54=1×54 or 2×27 or 3×18 or 6×9. Since we were given that my son is a teenager, the only option which fits is that he is 18, and my favourite whole number is 3.

Michael on 30 March 2016

My son, Michael, on 30 March 2016, when he was still 17

Word Puzzle #4:

AT MICHAEL AT M gives MATHEMATICAL!

Blank Chess Board

Math/Chess Brainteaser #1

Let’s divide the 64 unit squares into three categories: the four corner squares; the other 24 unit squares around the edges of the board; the remaining 36 more inner unit squares on the board. Let’s now choose a place for the white king, and then consider all the corresponding possibilities for where to put the black king. If the white king is on a corner square, then we have 60 choices of where to put the black king. For example, if the white king is on a1, then the black king can be anywhere except a1, a2, b1 or b2. Since there are 4 corner squares, we already have 4×60=240 different possibilities. If the white king is on one of the other 24 unit squares around the edges, then we have 58 choices of where to put the black king. For example, if the white king is on b1, then the black king can be anywhere except a1, a2, b1, b2, c1 or c2. Since there are 24 such possible edge locations for the white king, we have 24×58=1392 different possibilities. If the white king is on one of the other 36 more inner unit squares, then we have 55 choices of where to put the black king. For example, if the white king is on b2, then the black king can be anywhere except a1, a2, a3, b1, b2, b3, c1, c2 or c3. Since there are 36 such possible inner locations for the white king, we have 36×55=1980 different possibilities. Finally, our total number of different possible positions with only the two kings on the board is 240+1392+1980=3612 possible positions. (If we want to be ultra accurate by noting that it could be either White or Black to move in each of the 3612 different positions, then we could consider that the number of positions effectively gets doubled to 3612×2=7224 positions! Of course, in every one of those cases with only two kings left, the two players would normally be peacefully shaking hands to agree a definite draw!!)

Author: Paul A. Motwani

My name is Paul Motwani, but my colleagues, my students and their parents mostly call me "Mr. Mo"! My middle initial, A, stands for Anthony, because I was born on the official feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of miracles and of lost souls. I love teaching Mathematics and Chess, and giving fun-packed talks and shows in schools and clubs. The popular ingredients of Math, Chess, Mystery and Magic are my "Fantastic Four", and I give prizes too! I am an International Chess Grandmaster, and (loooooong ago!) I was the World Under-17 Champion. I am the author of five published chess books and hundreds of newspaper articles. I live with my wonderful wife and son in Belgium. I also love music, movies and puzzles. I blog at paulmotwani.com. My e-mail address is pmotwani141@gmail.com. You can find me on Facebook, too.