Blog Post #63: Wishing Everyone A Very Happy New Year 2020 !

Dear Readers,

I’m just slightly early with this…, but I wanted to wish everyone a very happy New Year 2020 coming soon!

As most of my students enjoy brainteasers involving Maths and/or Chess, and one of the youngest recently told me, “I love puzzles more than my own heart!”, I offer you a couple of nice, quick, fresh puzzles to round off this year. Solutions will be published at the time of the next blog post.

Pictured- Young Mateo Maisky: “I love puzzles more than my own heart!”

The 2020 Puzzle

Your quick challenge is to find the smallest positive whole number (in normal base ten) for which the sum of the digits equals 2020.

Happy New Year Checkmate Puzzle!

Imagine that White has an invisible minor piece (either a knight or a bishop) somewhere on the 7th rank. Your chess challenge is to choose the best minor piece for this puzzle and decide exactly where it should be located so that, immediately after placing it on the board, it will be White to move and force checkmate in at most 4 moves.

My wife and I wish you lots of fun and, again, a wonderful, happy New Year coming very soon!

Paul Motwani xxx

Solutions to Puzzles (being posted now on 19 January 2020)

The smallest whole number solution to the 2020 puzzle consists of a 4 followed by two hundred and twenty-four 9s !

In the chess puzzle, if White has a knight on e7, then a quick checkmate is forced via 1 Rb8+ Kg7 (1…Kxe7 2 Re8 or 2 Qe8 or 2 Qxc7 mate) 2 Qg2+ Kh7 (2…Kh6 3 Rh8#) 3 Rh8+! Kxh8 4 Qg8#.

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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