Blog Post #146: Three Books πŸ˜Šβ™₯😊

Dear Readers,

Out of the many millions of books that have ever been written, if I had to pick just 3–my absolute favourite number!–of them to keep enjoying forever, then my top selection would probably be the following:-

  1. The Holy Bible, because it’s a perfect book revealing to us the Word of God, which can be trusted totally and is of supreme importance.
My selected text today is: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”-John 14:6 β™₯

2. After my clear first choice above, it’s not at all easy for me to pick a second book in preference to all other books, but I’m sure that a very strong candidate would be: ’15 Minutes Alone With God’ by Bob Barnes.

Though the book has the subtitle ‘For Men’, every page has wonderful reflections for everyone.
Here is a short extract from page 9 of my copy: “Time with your heavenly Father is never wasted. If you spend time alone with God in the morning, you’ll start your day refreshed and ready for whatever comes your way. If you spend time alone with Him in the evening, you’ll go to sleep relaxed, resting in His care, and wake up ready for a new day to serve Him.” β™₯

If I fast-forward to pages 185-188 of the book, there’s a four-page article entitled I Didn’t Believe It Anyway, which includes the following powerful poem:

‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house

Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.

Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care

In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,

Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.

And Mom in her rocker and baby on her lap

Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,

I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear

But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.

With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray

I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face made me cover my head.

It was Jesus! Returning just like He had said.

And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,

I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand

Was written the name of every saved man.

He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;

When He said, “It’s not here,” my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love

He gathered to take to His Father above.

With those who were ready He rose without a sound

While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;

I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.

I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;

Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;

The coming of Jesus is drawing near.

There’s only one life and when comes the last call

We’ll find that the Bible was true after all!

3. No further book is really needed, but still I thank God every day for having let me enjoy many thousands of fascinating puzzles in my life so far. For me, a compilation of all those puzzles, about Chess, Mathematics, Words and more, would certainly be a treat! I believe that the puzzles in store in Heaven will be better and more magical than I can possibly imagine. For the moment, I can only offer what I know right now. So, I would like to share some surprises with you, since God gives us good thoughts to be shared. Here comes fresh puzzle ideas that came yesterday evening and in the morning today…with some extra bonuses this evening!

I would like to specially dedicate the puzzles to my excellent colleague Jens Van Steerteghem, his brother Nick, and their father Eric, as all three gentlemen are passionate about puzzles and have great talent for solving them!

Get ready for a race…but first rearrange the letters of TIME RAN
to make a seven-letter female first name, the nice name of Jens & Nick’s mother
A wee clue is that her name begins with MA, and it’s a very popular name in Belgium 😊.


The name ‘Eric’ always makes me think of the famous missionary Eric Liddell–affectionately known as ‘The Flying Scotsman’–who won the Gold Medal in the 400m race at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Fast-forwarding 99 years to the present 2023…imagine that Eric Van Steerteghem runs a long distance from A to B at an average speed of 3 metres per second. On the way back from B to A (following exactly the same route as before, only in the opposite direction, and naturally more tired than before), Eric’s average speed is 2 metres per second.

The brainteaser is to figure out Eric’s average speed for his entire run from A to B to A. (Being an expert in Physics, Mathematics and more, Jens could tell you immediately that the average speed will not be 2.5 metres per second! Can you do like Jens and figure out the correct value?)


Thinking of delicious Chinese food…
rearrange the letters of PRC CALORIES
to make a proper 11-letter English word!


Part 1: As a very quick warm-up before the main Part 2, imagine a cube with its dimensions (equal length, width and height) in centimetres (cm).

If a particular cube’s volume (in cubic centimetres) is numerically equal to its total surface area (in square centimetres), then what must be the cube’s exact dimensions?

Part 2: If the length, width and height of a certain cuboid are all exact whole numbers of centimetres, and if the cuboid’s volume (in cubic centimetres) is numerically equal to its total surface area (in square centimetres), then what is the maximum possible height of the cuboid?

Multiplication Magic Square, Beautiful Billion Brainteaser! 😊β™₯😊

Your super-fun brainteaser challenge is to find nine different positive whole numbers
to fill the nine grid boxes (with one number per box) so that the
total product (when you multiply all the nine numbers together) will be 1000000000 = 1 billion.
Also, the mini-products of the three numbers in any row or in any column or in either of the two main diagonals should always give the same results in each of those eight cases.
That is: three row products, three column products & two main diagonal products
must all equal each other.


For this puzzle, we need to know that, in Mathematics, the reciprocal of any non-zero number n is 1 Γ· n.

Imagine that a lady on her birthday today said, “The difference between the reciprocal of my new age now and the reciprocal of the age I’ll be in a year from now is equal to the reciprocal of the year when my younger sister was born.”

Your brainteaser is to figure out the lady’s new age now, and figure out the exact year when the lady’s younger sister was born.

You know that I like the number 141, as it features in one of my email addresses, Here in blog post #146, I should give a special mention to the number 14641, which equals the fourth power of my house number 11 😊


Part 1: In our normal base ten, the number 146 = 6 x 1 + 4 x 10 + 1 x 10 squared.

However, in another base B (not base ten), 222 (base B) = 146 (base 10).

Figure out the value of B.

Part 2: This involves a new base, N. We are told that

222 (base N) = xyz (base 10),

where xyz represents a proper three-digit whole number.

The brainteaser is to figure out the maximum possible value of xyz, and the corresponding value of N.

A Wee Dose of Chess To Finish! 😊β™₯😊

Part 1: Though White is down on material, it’s White to play and win.
Part 2: If it were actually Black to play, what would be the strongest move?

It’s my intention to publish solutions to all the puzzles around the time that blog post #147 comes out, God-willing as always.

In the meantime, please do feel free to send me your best solutions to any or all of the puzzles, if you like 😊.

I would like to round off this article now by most sincerely wishing you a very blessed weekend, with lots of happiness in everything that you do β™₯

With kindest wishes as always,

Paul M😊twani β™₯

P.S. = Puzzle Solutions!


Eric’s average speed for the entire run was 2.4 metres per second. That can be verified using the formula Average Speed = 2vw Γ· (v+w), in which v=3 and w=2, the respective speeds for the outward and return runs covering equal distances.

PRC CALORIES can turn one’s diet upside down because they make RECIPROCALS !! 😊

Regarding length L, width W and height H, when a cube has L = W = H = 6cm, then its volume = 6 x 6 x 6 = 216 cubic centimetres, and the total surface area of its six faces is 216 square centimetres because each one of the faces has an area of 6 x 6 = 36 square centimetres.

In the cuboid part of the brainteaser, a maximum whole number height of 42cm is achievable when the length and width are 3cm and 7cm in either order.

Given that the volume was numerically equal to the total surface area, I used LWH = 2LW + 2LH + 2WH and then 1 = 2/H + 2/W + 2/L.

Letting L=3 helps to β€˜use up’ two thirds of the 1, leaving only one third or 2/6. So W can’t then be 6, but it can be 7, letting us solve directly for the optimal H.

(If the length and width are 4cm and 5cm in either order, we would find that H = 20cm; smaller than our optimal 42cm.)

In the Multiplication Magic Square, we must have the number 10 in the central box, and all the other factors of one hundred can be filled in the rows in (for example) this order (starting from the top-left box):- 20, 1, 50; 25, centre 10, 4; 2, 100, 5.

In the reciprocals brainteaser, the lady is 44 and her younger sister was born in the year 1980.

It makes use of the fact that 1/n – 1/(n+1) = 1/(n(n+1)). In the puzzle, n(n+1) has to be the year when the younger sister was born. The only value for n that gives a suitable value for n(n+1) in the reasonably recent past is n=44, and then n(n+1) = 44 x 45 = 1980.

In the number bases brainteaser, 222 (base N) has the value of 2 + 2 x N + 2 x N squared. If you were to generate an accurate table of different values for N and the corresponding values of 2 + 2 x N + 2 x N squared, it would show, for example, that 2 + 2 x N + 2 x N squared = 146 when N = 8 and 2 + 2 x N + 2 x N squared = 926 when N = 21 and 2 + 2 x N + 2 x N squared = 1014 when N = 22.

So, the answers asked for in the puzzle are:- B = 8; xyz = 926; N = 21.

In the Chess puzzle, 1 Bg5+ Kg8 2 Qh7+ Kf8 3 Qh8# is the fastest win for White.

If it were actually Black’s turn to move, then (though it’s true that 1…Qxg3+ would win easily) the quickest forced win is 1…Rh1+! 2 Kxh1 Qg1#, a key checkmating pattern 😊

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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