Blog Post #62: For Ruth, Diana, Micky, Phoebe, Charlie &…EVERYONE!

Dear Readers,

I very much hope that you will all enjoy this article, which includes a delightful, fun surprise for EVERYONE! It’s also particularly dedicated to Ruth, Diana, Micky, Phoebe and Charlie: five friends with whom I enjoyed a lovely chat and dinner yesterday.

Earlier today, I wished a very happy 21st birthday to my nephew, Thomas, and I chatted with my wife, Jenny, who is currently visiting her family and friends in China. Then I decided to post this fun piece.


  • Write down the MONTH NUMBER OF YOUR BIRTHDAY (e.g. Thomas would write 11 for his birthday, now in November)
  • Multiply by the number of letters in MICKY
  • Add on the total number of letters in PHOEBE
  • Multiply by the number of letters in RUTH
  • Add on the total number of letters in CELEBRATE
  • Multiply by the total number of letters in DIANA
  • Add on the DAY NUMBER OF YOUR BIRTHDAY (e.g. Thomas would add on 24 for his birthday today, November 24th)
  • SUBTRACT (24 x the number of letters in CHARLIE)
  • Add on my favourite, magical number, 3.

I predict that your final result shows the month and day numbers of your birthday!!


If Phoebe were doing the “BIRTHDAY MAGIC” steps (given above) for herself, she would get a certain three-digit multiple of five after the step involving her husband, Charlie, but just before adding on my magical 3.

If I were to actually multiply Phoebe’s multiple of five by 3, then the result would show the month number and day number of Ruth’s birthday, still to come before Christmas.

Your fun challenge is to figure out exactly when Ruth’s birthday is, and also figure out Phoebe’s birthday!!

Solutions to all the puzzles in this article will be published at the time of the next blogpost.


Consider the chess position shown below.

White has an invisible rook somewhere on the f-file, but NOT on f7. Your chess brainteaser is to figure out exactly where to position the white rook so that, right after that, it will still be White to move and force checkmate in as few moves as possible.

Wishing you lots of enjoyment,

Paul Motwani xxx

God Bless You All

SOLUTIONS TO PUZZLES  (being posted now on 30 December 2019)

Ruth’s birthday is 15 December; Phoebe’s birthday is 8 April.

In the chess brainteaser, if White has a rook on f5, then 1 Bg5 (threatening 2 Bd8 & 3 Ra5#) forces 1…Nxg5 2 Rxg5 Ka3 3 Ra5#.

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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