Blog Post #26: Father And Mother, I Love You

Dear Readers,

It was many years ago on the main outside wall of a beautiful school in Hong Kong that I first saw the words Father And Mother, I Love You spelling out FAMILY. I was struck by the simplicity, truth and beauty of what I saw, and since then I have never forgotten to share it with my family, friends and all my students, wherever we were.

Me with friends in China, New Year 2016.

My son, Michael (on the right), with a little Chinese friend about 16 years go.

A gift from my class of 2006-2007 at St. John’s International School, Waterloo.

My family and I in China, December 2015.


My wife, Jenny, is Chinese, and a few days ago she showed me a funny short video in which a Chinese man repeatedly tells his little daughter that the homeland of China is Mother to him. He then asks his daughter what she has learned and understood about the homeland. She replies that the homeland must be her grandmother!!

On the same day, one of my students told me (seriously; not joking now!) that his late grandfather, Ben, in Poland looked after a nature reserve and the animals that lived there in the forest. Ben’s daughter (my student’s mother) recalls that many children, often in school groups, loved to visit the reserve to see the animals and to learn how Ben cared for them. “Everything about the place was both beautiful and highly educational”, she said, and then she proceeded to serve me some delicious Walker’s Scottish shortbread cookies with a decorated napkin which reminded her of her father’s nature reserve.


As my son, Michael, hopes to soon run a small car, here is a special word puzzle to celebrate. Your challenge is to decide which one of the 11 letters in LOW CAR PRICE should be left out, so that the remaining 10 letters can be used (in a suitable order) to make a proper 10-letter English word.

Special congratulations if you managed to figure out that we should discard the letter W so that the remaining 10 letters can make RECIPROCAL. In Mathematics, the reciprocal of any non-zero chosen number is the result we get from doing 1 divided by your chosen number.


Michael, knows that tomorrow December 5th, is the birthday of his grandfather, my father. The number 5 always makes me think of a hand of God–always present and ready to help us, if we will simply believe and ask.

I also have favourite ways of thinking of other numbers, too. Here are just a few examples:- 3: my favourite number, and it makes me think of the Holy Trinity of God The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit; 27: equal to 3x3x3; 98: the year Michael was born (1998); 54: my age last year, when Michael was 18 and I was three times his age; 1217: December 2017.

A fun curiosity involving most of the numbers mentioned above concerns 54.98181217. On a calculator, work out the sum of that number and its reciprocal. In other words, calculate 54.98181217+1/54.98181217. The exact answer is so close to 55 (my current age), that your calculator will probably just give 55 as the answer…but it might give 55.0000000027 if the display is long enough!


  1. On precisely which recent date do you think the second Christmas calendar photo was taken?
  2. On the Christmas tree in the first photo, would the total sum of all the even numbers be more than, less than, or the same as the total sum of all the odd numbers? Try to answer easily without needing to use a calculator.


Your fun chess challenge is to discover which white piece should be placed somewhere on the missing a-file or h-file so that White can then deliver an immediate checkmate, right away in 1 move.



  1. The two opened windows on the calendar give away the fact that the photo was taken on December 2nd.
  2. For each of the twelve odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 23 on the tree, there is an even number, equal to the odd number+1, among 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24. Therefore, the total sum of all the twelve even numbers must be exactly 12 more than the total sum of all the twelve odd numbers on the tree.


If we put a white queen (or another bishop!) on a4, then White checkmates Black immediately with the discovered double check 1 Nb5-c7# or 1 Nb5-d6#.

As it’s now just 3 weeks until Christmas, I’ll finish again with this powerful yet peaceful picture, & a new link: Please enjoy a beautiful snowy music video via the link, 3mins11sec.

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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