Blog Post #15: Mountains

Dear Readers,

Do you ever have the feeling that there’s a mountain of things that you would love to do, discuss and share with others, but may be wondering how and where to begin? I have had feelings like that for a while now, and today I am at the foot of the mountain, looking up.

The journey ahead can sometimes appear daunting, but in my soul I know that, with help, there is no need to be afraid. The good message is summarised perfectly in a short 2-minute extract from my favourite film, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (directed by Franco Zeffirelli forty years ago in 1977). “Don’t be afraid, I am with you every day till the end of time.”

I have the full movie on a proper DVD. It lasts more than 6 hours, but I still love to watch it over a number of days, whenever possible. For a long time already, the following link to the full movie has also been available. ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, 6hours 20mins.

Every week on the phone, I chat with my younger brother in England, and our chat almost invariably includes something about inspirational movies. He knows a really vast amount about the history of films. For example, if I were to ask him, “Who played the role of Esther alongside Charlton Heston in ‘Ben Hur’?” then he could tell me from his knowledge and memory, that it was, way back in 1959, the beautiful Israeli actress Haya Harareet, who should be turning 86 later this month!

As the love theme from ‘Ben Hur’ is, to my ears, one of the most unforgettable pieces of music, I include the following link. 3mins 28secs.

Another stunning piece, only requiring 1 minute yet never fading in impact, can be found here: 1min.


As we have Blog Post #15 today on September 5th, I give you (1+5)x(5+5-1) to mentally calculate the age my brother will be on his birthday this coming Saturday. Can you think of another way of getting the same age using the digits 1,1,5,5,5 in a calculation?

Also, since Charlton Heston was galley slave number 41 in a particularly famous scene from ‘Ben Hur’, and since 3 is my personal favourite number, you are invited to calculate 3x3x3x3x3x41 and to figure out the connection to my brother!


Long ago as a boy, I remember hoping that one day the mist might clear in my mind so that, in chess and in life, I could start to see important details that I was missing before.

It is Black to play and win!


Make a proper nine-letter English word using the letters of A MIST NOUN.


Why are mountains more than funny…?

…Mountains aren’t just funny; they’re hill areas!!



On Saturday, my brother will be (1+5)x(5+5-1)=6×9=54 years old. (1+5+5)x5-1=11×5-1=55-1 also produces the result 54, and you may well have thought of other alternative good ways.

3x3x3x3x3x41=9963, to recognise my brother’s date of birth, 9.9.63.


In T.Kotanjian vs. V.Teterev at the Avicenna Open last month, White resigned after 1…Bh6!! in view of 2 Bxh6 Qxb6+ 3 Kh1 Ng4! 4 Bxf8 Nf2+ 5 Kg1 Nh3++ 6 Kh1 Qg1+! 7 Rxg1 Nf2#, a ‘smothered checkmate’.


A MIST NOUN can be rearranged to make MOUNTAINS.

I will finish this article with a good quote: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news” from Isaiah 52:7.

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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