Blog Post #70: Back to the 70’s!

Dear Readers,

Today, my family has been busily and happily congratulating my son’s lovely girlfriend on turning 22. My personal message included the following sneaky fun surprise…

  • Pick any three-digit whole number which has three different digits from 1 to 9 (e.g. 236)
  • Write down all the two-digit whole numbers that can be made from your chosen three-digit number without repeating digits in the same number (e.g. 23, 26, 32, 36, 62, 63)
  • Add up all your two-digit numbers (e.g. 23+26+32+36+62+63=242)
  • Divide your total by the total of the digits in your chosen three-digit number (e.g. 242/(2+3+6)=242/11=22 for the birthday celebration today!)

Turning the clock back about 22 hours to yesterday afternoon, I received then a digital copy of a photo that took me back approximately 22 x 2 years to high-school days in the mid-late 70’s!

This brought back very happy memories of playing chess in a great school team with my brother Joe and friends Paul Strachan and Kevin McGovern, in which all of us there truly appreciated the dedication of teachers Mr. Paul Fitzpatrick and Ms. Hazel Steele at St. Saviour’s High School, Dundee.

It is a joy for me to now celebrate some chess played at the beautiful Musica Mundi School where I work as the Maths teacher. I witnessed a number of great moves that would make World Champion Magnus Carlsen smile!

I showed a couple of the students a photo of a chess position that I had seen just a few days ago, posted by a friend on Facebook…

They immediately deduced that it was White to move (as otherwise …bxc4 would simply win a knight), and not long later they happily reported having discovered the super-elegant forced win 1 Qf8+!! Rxf8 2 Nd6+ Ke7 3 Nf5++ Ke8 4 Nxg7#. Lovely stuff!

For Incredible Ilya, Victorious Val and other chess enthusiasts, I promised to list some (of the many) sites that I enjoy using in order to follow top-level chess games, tackle puzzles or play a bit of chess…

As 3 is my absolute favourite number nowadays, I will just start with the following 3 here:-

Good books are wonderful too, of course, and in that respect I can highly recommend checking out a feast of choices available via, run by Woman Grandmaster Erika Sziva and her husband, Robert Klomp. You don’t have to wait until Christmas to order one of their gems!

WGM Erika Sziva


With very best wishes as always,

Paul Motwani xxx

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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