Blog Post #69: Enjoying Chess!

Dear Readers,

I consider myself to be a much more natural Maths teacher than chess player, and since I also believe that teaching is a more important part of my vocation, nowadays I invest a lot of time working to do the best job I can to help the Maths students at a beautiful music school where I have been for almost two years, so far. Still, it’s really nice to witness some of the students enjoying playing a bit of chess, during part of their lunch break for instance. One or two colleagues have been joining in the good fun, too, and hopefully more will follow soon! In the meantime, thanks to Christophe Gillain for the photo below with the giant pieces!

In the second photo, though the captured pieces are hidden from view, just a wee dose of logical deduction makes them as clear as a piece of cake! All 16 pawns (eight white and eight black ones) are still on the board. A total of 30 little squares are occupied, compared to the original 32 occupied squares at the very start of a game. Since neither side is ahead on material, there must have been just one white and one black piece-capture so far, and indeed that is the truth! What’s also true, I’m sure, is that the keen boys will continue our game strongly at lunchtime on Monday!


At a certain time of day, Headmaster Herman sometimes announces, with typical wit, “Be sharp!” when there’s a lunchtime teachers’ meeting. Can you figure out the precise starting time of those meetings, in 24-hour clock time, if I tell you that it looks the same as double the 4th power of a particular positive whole number?


Some students requested that there be a nice ‘n sneaky chess puzzle with this article! So, here it comes!

Imagine that White and Black both have an extra, invisible bishop each, somewhere on the board.

Where exactly should the invisible bishops be placed so that it will then be White to move and force checkmate in my favourite 3 moves!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend now, and good fun with the puzzles!

Paul Motwani xxx

P.S.Β I intend to post the puzzle solutions here in a few days’ time…

PUZZLE SOLUTIONS (being posted now on 23 June 2020)

Headmaster Herman’s teachers’ meetings usually begin at 12:50.

2 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 = 1250.


In the chess puzzle, placing bishops for White and Black on d3 and d6, respectively, allows the forced finish 1 Qxh7+ Kf8 2 Qh8+ Ke7 3 Nd5#, checkmate!

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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