Blog Post #38: For Rob: a double 38 this Saturday, please!!

Dear Readers,

Whenever friends remind me of the time, long ago, when I, at age 16, won the World Under-17 Chess Championship in the little Dutch town of Sas Van Gent, I always think of Rob Maas, a friend who collected numerous newspaper clippings and photos about the tournament, and kindly posted them all to me at my parents’ home in Scotland.

Now in this Blog Post #38, I can tell you that on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday 17 March–which will be day number 38+38 of this year–there will then be 17×17 further days remaining of this year. Rob will be celebrating at O’Reilly’s Irish pub in Brussels, and he’ll undoubtedly make it a double, in style, because later this year he’ll be turning 60.


Even though this coming Saturday is not Rob’s actual 60th birthday–and I haven’t even mentioned exactly when it is–you can still enjoy solving this fun puzzle: how many days are there in total if we count the days after Saturday until and including Rob’s birthday to the days remaining this year after his birthday?


Rob & friends at O’Reilly’s will probably want to have the satisfaction of solving the puzzle together on Saturday. So, rather than directly giving away the whole answer now, I’ll instead give it wrapped in the form of a bonus puzzle! Suppose that 17 friends (Rob and 16 others) at O’Reilly’s each choose a different odd whole number. The minimum possible total that they could get by adding up all their odd numbers correctly is also the correct answer to Rob’s early birthday puzzle, for him turning 60=38+38-16 !

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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