Blog Post #5: St. Andrew

Dear Readers,

It was 50 years ago as a young boy that I started attending St. Andrew’s RC Primary School in Dundee in 1967. I was delighted to be going to a great school named after the patron saint of Scotland and of fishermen.

To my mind, one of the most beautiful quotes from St. Andrew is the following: “Love is acceptance. When you love someone, you take them into your heart, and that is surely why it hurts so much when we lose someone we love, because we lose a part of ourselves.”

I have a few friends named Andrew, one of whom is Rev. Dr. Andrew Gardner, the minister at St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland in Brussels.

I’ve got a sneaky little Math surprise with a nice twist for Andrew and his wife, Julie. I’ll be using my favourite number 3, as well as 7 (the total number of people in Andrew’s family and my family), and 25 to celebrate Andrew & Julie’s silver wedding anniversary on Monday, 3 July 2017.

Silver Wedding Anniversary Math Surprise for Andrew & Julie!!

Feel free to use a calculator to figure out (3×3+25+25)x3x3x7.


The result 3717 is perfect to wish Andrew and Julie a very happy anniversary on 3.7.17!

Church Joke

One Sunday morning in church, the kind pastor invites a new lady in the front row to select her favourite hymn.

The lady spots a handsome, famous footballer in the congregation and says, “I’ll have him, please!”

P.S. I nearly made the Premier League…I was offered a fool-time position on the reserve-d team!!

P.P.S. What do you get if you multiply your number of goals scored by my number of professional goals scored?

My number of course…

…it was zero!! (We’d get your number if I score a goal!)

Within the chess world, I only currently know of one International Grandmaster named Andrew: America’s 70-year-old GM Andrew Soltis. I have never yet had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Soltis in person, though I feel as though I have already got to know a fine man and author through his numerous chess books. The newest of those is actually my favourite one: “365 Chess Master Lessons”, published by Batsford. I like the easy-to-follow layout and content, with memorable titles and tips for all the daily lessons. Each one also includes a quick, decisive game annotated by Andrew Soltis, followed by (at least) one other game that emphasizes some theme(s) of the main game. Diagrams are helpfully placed throughout. The book is choc-full with stimulating quiz questions, and clear answers too, for the reader. I won’t pick on very occasional small errors, for practically any book would have some, and Andrew Soltis produces good-quality work which will benefit lots of keen chess players. Hundreds of IMs and GMs will be interested, too, to see their own games included. As the author has purposely structured his book to not be too time-consuming for busy people, I have taken the liberty of “cheating” in the most innocent of ways by reading a lot more than one “daily lesson” per day! This book is fun!


The diagram below appears in Andrew Soltis’ new book. Can you solve his puzzle about why the very natural-looking move c3 is actually a fatal mistake?



Imagine that, out of the name ANDREW SOLTIS, we remove all the letters needed to make ST. ANDREW. Which four letters would still be left? Also, which four proper four-letter English words could we make, each using all of the four left-over letters?


How many letters of the English alphabet are NOT used in the name ANDREW SOLTIS?


As my wife and I are looking forward to celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary, here comes a bit of bonus ‘Magic Math’ fun which should always take you to the answer 22…


Write down any three digits that you want, provided that the digits are all different and none of them are zero. Now list ALL the two-digit whole numbers which each use only two of your three chosen digits, in any order. Altogether, you should find that you have six two-digit numbers on your list. Add up the six two-digit numbers. Then divide your total by the sum of the three digits that you chose at the start. What is your end result?




If White plays c3, then …Qf5! wins by attacking White’s loose pieces on e4 and f4 simultaneously.


The left-over letters would be O, L, I and S. They can be used to make the proper four-letter English words OILS, SILO, SOIL or SOLI.


There are only 11 different letters in ANDREW SOLTIS, because S is repeated. So, the number of unused English alphabet letters is 26-11, which is 15.


Here is an illustrative example. Suppose that I choose the digits 3, 4 and 5. They can give us six possible two-digit numbers without repeating digits: 34, 35, 43, 45, 53, 54. The total sum is 264. Also, 3+4+5=12. Finally, 264÷12=22.

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 My e-mail address is You can find me on Facebook, too.

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