Blog Post #107: Always a Teacher and a Student too

Dear Readers,

Around 35 years ago, I had the great honour and pleasure of doing some chess with Ally, a daughter of Mrs. Mo Brodie who was then a very dear Mathematics teacher colleague of mine in Scotland. Mo was surprised when I said to her one day that I learned from the chess games with her young daughter; but I really meant it! I am a teacher, yet a life-long student too.

Grandmaster Glenn Flear expressed it well, for he said that he had the feeling that, because I don’t actually play many games of chess, each game that I do play becomes like a ‘Cup Final’, a special event to remember and to learn from, as much as possible.

At the wonderful Musica Mundi School where I work as the Maths Teacher in Waterloo, Belgium, I sometimes get the chance to enjoy a ‘friendly game’ with colleagues and students during our lunch break. Yesterday, it was a lovely treat for me to play 12-year-old Wout Callens, who is extremely gifted in Music and Mathematics as well as having a passionate interest in the royal game of Chess.

Big thanks to Christophe Gillain for the following photos.

Wout and Paul enjoying their first game of chess together on Thursday 16 September 2021
Paul captures a little pawn…
Wout pins one of Paul’s knights…

Here comes a nice puzzle based on events from the first chess adventure with Wout…

Where is Black’s invisible queen!?

Your Fun Chess Puzzle is this: Exactly where on the board is Black’s invisible queen!? Place it such that if it’s then White to move, he can force checkmate in just two moves, and if it’s Black to move, then he is the one who can force checkmate in a mere two moves! One capture is involved in the first checkmating sequence, for White.

Wout with Laurel, one of the school’s cute cats!
Super-Quick Bonus Puzzle: What was the exact date, given that it was on
the same weekday as the chess photos, but the earliest such weekday in September this year?

Fun Mind-Reader Word Puzzle: Start with the word FEELING. Remove one particular letter from the word. Then rearrange the remaining letters to make a proper six-letter English word inspired by seeing Wout with Laurel!

Fun Number Puzzle: The word CAT makes me think of the number 60, because if C=3, A=1 and T=20, then C x A x T = 60. Your number puzzle is this: What is the smallest positive whole number, H, which when multiplied by 60 gives a square number result? The correct answer is in honour of my youngest niece, Princess H., who turned that age, H years old, this month. (Note: H is not 8 here!)

God-willing as always, solutions to all the puzzles will be published by the time of my next blog post, if not before.

In the meantime, I would like to round off this article now by wishing everyone a really happy weekend.

With kindest wishes as always,

Paul Motwani xxx

PUZZLE SOLUTIONS (being posted now on 1 October 2021)

In the chess puzzle, Black’s invisible queen can either be on e7 (allowing 1 Nxe7+ Kh7/Kh8 2 Qh5# or 2 Qh1#) or on h1 (allowing 1 Ne7+ Kh7/Kh8 2 Qxh1#). In either case, when it’s Black to move, 1…Qe4+ 2 Kc3 Qc4# is checkmate!

In the pussy cat photo puzzle, the picture was taken on Thursday 2 September 2021, a full two weeks before the chess photos at the top (from Thursday 16 September 2021).

In the mind-reader word puzzle, remove the letter G from FEELING and rearrange the remaining six letters to get FELINE.

In the fun number puzzle, since 60 = 2 x 2 x 3 x 5, the number 2 featuring twice among the factors is already squared there, but we still need to multiply by an extra 3 and an extra 5 to effectively make those parts squared too. Therefore, we need to multiply 60 by (at least) 15 to get 60 x 15 = 900 = 30 squared.

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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