Blog Post #12: Talents

Dear Readers,

While the comeback in Saint Louis, USA, of 54-year-old former World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, made headline news this week, a different event that also merits special recognition was happening in the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges.

Hundreds of good people came to play, organise or spectate at the Brugsemeesters Tournament. The very worthy winner, with a fantastic score of 8/9, was young Dutch IM Lucas Van Foreest–one of several remarkable siblings who are all putting their talents to great use. (Here is a link to an interview with Lucas after another of his previous great successes:

Another rapidly rising Dutch star is Hing Ting Lai, who scored 7.5/9 and will be awarded the International Master title. Sharing second place with Hing Ting was Belgian IM Thibaut Vandenbussche, and Thibaut was particularly happy to play so well after having been away from chess for the previous five months. The long list of other impressive performers included Daniel Dardha, who is only 11 years old and yet rated well over 2200.

The top placed female player, and scoring 6.5/9, was the lovely 21-year-old Filippino, Janelle Mae Frayna, who is already a Woman Grandmaster and is progressing quickly under the good guidance of GM Jayson Gonzalez. (Here is a link to a CNN video about Janelle from last year:

At breakfast on the first morning, Jayson kindly mentioned that, with his students, he had often used chess books written by me many years ago. He also encouraged me to write more books! I explained that I hadn’t played in any tournament since 2013, but that I was delighted to be starting back by taking part in such a friendly and well-organised event. Though I was not able to produce my best form in the end, I was happy to manage to play some games of fair quality, and I am truly grateful for the whole excellent experience. I will try to build constructively on lessons learned, and I hope to play well in some team matches this coming season. More writing may come here on my website and, God-willing, possibly in fresh books too.

In the meantime, I warmly recommend marking the dates 12-16 August 2018 in your diary for next year’s Brugsemeesters Tournament. The organising volunteers Benny, Chris, Dick, Dirk Vanhee, Dirk Van Rillaer, Eva, Filip, Fritz, Geert, Ivan, Jan, Jarid, Jean-Paul, Johan, Jonny, Kurt, Lars, Linden, Maxim, Mieke, Raf, Steve, Sylvia, Tom, Tristan and Zoltan run a really splendid event, together with Chief Arbiter Geert Bailleul and his friendly and efficient team. Check out This year, every participant even received some delicious Belgian chocolates as a gift!

I am reminded of the quote “God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?” by William Arthur Ward.

Garry Kasparov once said, “It is quite difficult for me to imagine life without chess.” For me, the combination of enjoying playing and meeting old friends was certainly very special. I will now give a related selection of photos and puzzles.

Tijs Cocquyt

Chess Tactics Puzzle Position

Black has just played …f7-f5, but that allows White to open up the position and to win by force.

Francky Deketelaere with Dora!

I met Dora too!

Hugo Van Steenwinkel

Chief Arbiter Geert Bailleul

Meeting up with Nico Demoen

While I’m writing about friends, I will gladly take this opportunity to wish a very happy birthday today to Bart de Schepper, Stuart Shaw, and Calum McGarrity, a son of my cousin John.


The game I lost in Bruges happened in the very last round. My opponent effectively caught me with an opening trap, after which I was unable to recover at the time, but he played powerfully and fully deserved to win. It made me think of a game that I won in Denmark 26 years ago. On that occasion, my opponent also fell into an opening trap of sorts, and I remember sympathetically and honestly how painful it was for him because he wasn’t able to show on that day that he is actually a really fine player. However, he told me that he learned valuable lessons from the game, and I will try to do the same.

It happens that the game played in Denmark featured the Vienna Game, a relatively rare opening which can have useful surprise value. Bernard, another old friend whom I had the pleasure of seeing, and talking with, in Bruges, expressed an interest in seeing some examples of the Vienna Game in action. So, I am including the following links for interested readers, and especially for my friend Bernard. This third link is to a beautiful piece of James Bond music known as “Into Vienna”!

Kalskirche, Vienna


The picture shows two mini square boards of equal size. Is the blue area greater than, equal to, or less than the green area?



Choose any eight consecutive whole numbers (e.g. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Square each of them. That is, multiply each number by itself. From the eight squared numbers, can you find a way to partition (or split) them into two groups of four squared numbers such that the total sums in both groups will be exactly equal?


Chess Tactics Puzzle Position

After the error …f7-f5, White wins material by force with 1 gxf6 (en passant) Bxf6 2 Rhg1+ Kh8 3 Bxf6+ Rxf6 4 Ne4! Rg6 (or 4…Bf5 5 Qc3!) 5 Qc3+ Kg8 6 Nf6+ Kf7 7 Nxh7.


Notice that the number of unit coloured squares is precisely one more than the number of unit white squares in both the blue case and the green case. However, since the blue squares are larger than the green squares, the blue area must be larger than the green area. We can also confirm that using fractions, since 5/9 is greater than 13/25. Converting to decimals, 0.55… is greater than 0.52.


Whichever consecutive eight numbers you choose and square, put the second, third, fifth and eighth ones in one group, and the first, fourth, sixth and seventh ones in another group. Then the total sums in both groups will always be exactly equal. For instance, if you choose 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, then (2×2)+(3×3)+(5×5)+(8×8)=(1×1)+(4×4)+(6×6)+(7×7).


What do we call Edward if he is good at chess?


What should he do if the same fan keeps asking for his autograph?


I will finish this article with a good quote: “Follow your dreams and use your natural-born talents and skills to make this a better world for tomorrow”–Paul Watson.

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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