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 paulmotwani.com. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on Facebook, too.
As a nice, wee warm-up challenge, rearrange the letters of the plural word ‘LAMPS’ to make a singular word. Congratulations for getting ‘PSALM’, and you may like to know that that little puzzle–and indeed this article–was inspired by the beautiful Bible Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” No matter what answers I might be looking for, they are always to be found in God’s perfect Word within The Bible.
I am due to turn 60 later this year, while one of my sisters has her birthday today. What total should we get if we add her new age now to the two-digit number located at the end of the (four-digit) year when she was born?
You could rightly assume that my sister was born in a 20th century year and then, no matter which year I mean, its two-digit end part + my sister’s age now will always give 122, perfect for today’s blog post 😊.
Have fun solving it…before checking answers…
just down below!
Black wins with 1…Qxf2+ 2 Kh1 Qg1# or
White wins with 1 Rf7+ Kg8 2 Re7+! K moves 3 Rcxe8#, checkmate!
I would like to round off now by wishing everyone a very happy weekend.
Many years ago, during a show within the theatre of my previous school, the delightful song ‘Three is a Magic Number’ started playing, and suddenly hundreds of smiling people looked directly at me because practically everyone there knew that 3 is my absolute favourite number! (A new version of the song plays near the end of ‘Spiderman: No Way Home’.)
I might have been thinking about it less often when I was a child…
…but now there are honestly lots of reasons for my love of three, and the following lovely pictures do show some of them:-
Another favourite photo is the following stunning view of the French Alps that people shared via Facebook recently.
My current house number is 11. Three fun facts involving it are:-
11 squared = 121, the palindromic number of this particular blog post
121 is the smallest 3-digit number which has exactly three factors: 1, 11 and 121; that happens because it’s the square of a prime number
11 cubed (or 11 raised to the power of 3) equals 1331,
another pretty palindrome 😊😊😊
It’s time for a quick, wee word puzzle… Rearrange the letters of TURN THE KEY to make THEN + the six-letter name of a beautiful country.
The beautiful Musica Mundi School (where I work as the Mathematics Teacher) is currently blessed with 7 lovely Turkish students. One of them is Cansu, who easily solved a little Christmas puzzle that kind friends first shared with me before I shared it with others, too.
My youngest, 15-year-old niece (in England) and my cousin Anne (in Scotland) both thought of moving number 9 to the first tree, after which the sum of the numbers on each tree will be exactly 15.
Cansu no less creatively thought of just moving 8 to the first tree, after which the individual tree sums would come to 14, 15 and 16, forming a nice sequence of consecutive numbers.
Now imagine that we wanted to have more than three trees. We’ll still be using the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 just once each.
How can the numbers be distributed such that the total on each tree is equal, using as many trees as possible?
Still thinking about my colleagues and my students, I would like to wish very bright ☼ happy birthdays to Norea (for this past Thursday), Mila (yesterday), Andrea (today) and Headmaster Herman for tomorrow ♥.
I know lots of people who love a good chess puzzle, and so let’s enjoy the following…
I would like to conclude now by wishing everyone a very blessed, joyful Christmas and a happy new year coming soon, too.
With kindest wishes as always,
Paul M😊twani xxx
P.S. In the chess puzzle, White’s invisible pawn is on f3, and Black forces checkmate with 1…Rf4+! 2 gxf4 Qh4+ 3 Kf5 Qxf4#, a beautiful finish!
In the ‘maximum number of trees’ puzzle, the answer is to have five trees with these numbers on them: 1 & 8; 2 & 7; 3 & 6; 4 & 5; 9. In that way, the total sum on each tree equals nine.
Have you ever loved someone so much that you could feel your heart overflowing, and have you wished for someone special to love you as much as that? The joyful truth is that we are all loved infinitely more than any of us can really imagine fully.
We are loved completely, totally and perfectly by God. That is by far the most happy and important thing that I know, for sure. Indeed, I am glad to declare honestly that I am more sure about God’s love for us than I am about anything else, including everything regarding Chess, Mathematics and other subjects that I have studied practically every day for decades.
My biggest Christmas wish is for as many people as possible–everyone, really–to live the rest of their lives joyfully knowing that God loves them, and that He has prepared a magnificent home for us in His Kingdom.
I could have stopped just above, for the most important things have been said…
…but I would like to also offer some personal thoughts for several dear friends.
Firstly, for two distinguished gentlemen who are brothers and whose father is ill, I am thinking of your whole family with kindest thoughts and prayers. I would also still like to most sincerely wish the older brother a happy birthday coming in five days from now, five days before Christmas.
A super-bright ray of sunshine comes to mind as I think of some other lovely friends who are now back living in a country for which the six-letter name can be made using all the letters of RAY NOW 😊.
Congratulations for getting NORWAY 😊.
In Norway, they of course have lots of SNOW even when it’s not Christmas!!
OK, you’re quite possibly asking, “What do you mean by A*(100-A)?”
Well, Ask-Johannes (the boy beside his sister in the photo below) sent me a note of his favourite whole number (let’s call it A), and A*(100-A) gives a year as early as possible in the 20th century (but not 1900 or 1901, for example, because we couldn’t get those results from A*(100-A)…
Really well done if you have already figured out Ask-Johannes’ favourite whole number, A.
In case you might be pondering the matter a little more, you can see that smiling Sigurd August wants to offer a helping hand! So, let’s now introduce his own favourite whole number, S…
Given what has already been told, if I also tell you that S*(A+1) = 300, then you could now know the precise values of A and of S.
OK, let’s bring ourselves right up to date by revealing that A=74 and S=4.
Check: 74*(100-74)=1924, quite early in the 20th century, and 4*(74+1)=300, as required.
Princess Vilja is so kind that she’ll surely forgive me for keeping her waiting a wee bit by not using the good rule of ‘ladies before gentlemen’ on this occasion. I do use it almost every day when queueing for lunch at the beautiful Musica Mundi School; I like for ladies and girls to go before me in the line, even if the ‘queue’ is mostly pretty short.
Today, though, already knowing Vilja’s brothers’ favourite numbers (4 and 74) will enable you to easily figure out Princess Vilja’s favourite number in a moment…That’s because not only does Vilja’s favourite whole number, V, equal the total of her mum’s two favourite whole numbers, Y1 and Y2, but also A + S + V + Y1 + Y2 = 100 exactly!
Now we also know that the sum of Y1 and Y2 is 11 because V=11, but what exactly are Yngvild’s favourite two numbers, Y1 and Y2?
I will simply announce directly that Y1=3 and Y2=8, because we still have a special, quite remarkable, surprise in store for the lovely Norwegian friends…
As this is Blog Post #120, let’s make a set of four numbers 1, 3, 8 and 120 for my 1st friends in Kolbotn. I’m going to say, “Pick any two different numbers from 1, 3, 8 and 120. Multiply the two numbers together. Now add 1, because you’re all #1 in God’s eyes.”
The above sequence of steps could have given you any of these six possible results:
1 x 3 + 1 = 4
1 x 8 + 1 = 9
1 x 120 + 1 = 121
3 x 8 + 1 = 25
3 x 120 + 1 = 361
8 x 120 + 1 = 961.
The remarkable thing is that every single one of those results is a perfect square number!
“Every heart sings a song incomplete, until another heart whispers back” are deeply moving words from Plato…but the perfect heart of God is whispering lovingly to us. When we take the time to turn down the busyness and distracting noise of the world, then we can hear God whispering tenderly to guide us gently along the paths that He knows will ultimately lead us safely and joyfully home, to Heaven. This Advent is the perfect time to pause well, to listen, to hear and respond to God’s personal call to each of us.
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving”–Psalm 147:7
“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord”–Ephesians 5:19
“I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise, I solve life’s riddle with the help of a harp”–Psalm 49:4, The Message Bible.
I know that I am really blessed to be teaching Mathematics in the beautiful Musica Mundi School. So, here in Blog Post #119 exactly 19 days before Christmas, I offer a selection of fresh riddles for everyone’s enjoyment.
Rearrange the letters of WISE + HARP to make A + a proper 7-letter word.
Congratulations for discovering that WISE + HARP = A + WHISPER !
2. The prime number 7 equals 3 squared – 2
and the prime number 47 equals 7 squared – 2.
What is the smallest positive whole number that is 2 less than the square of an odd number but is NOT prime?
3. Think of the oldest type of woodwind instrument. Remove its first letter. You now have a different musical instrument! Which one is it?
Here in this blog post, it’s nice that 119 is the answer to the second puzzle, above. 11 squared – 2 = 121 – 2 =119. It might plausibly ‘look’ prime at first sight, but it’s actually a composite number since 119 = 7 x 17.
4. Q: How can you get the most beautiful music ever?
A: Compose it!
Q: Make a proper nine-letter word using all the letters of COMPOSE IT.
A: 119 is a clue; it’s COMPOSITE! 😊
5. Can I rely on you to think of a musical instrument that is an anagram of RELY !?
I would like to round off now by wishing everyone a very happy period of Advent leading to a joyful Christmas coming soon.
To cut a long story short, I needed a fun code name for a friend whose birthday is coming up fast, and I was thinking…if any fast…idea comes…when suddenly that was it! She can be named as ‘Tiffany’, partly because as Tiffany is an anagram of if any fast, and partly because Tiffany Case in the 1971 film ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ has remained, for half a century, one of my absolute favourite female characters ever in a 007 movie 😊.
Can you think of a classy English eight-letter word that can be made using all the letters of I TIFFANY ? Well, I’m pretty sure that ‘Tiffany’ (who’s really a very smart lady indeed) would find AFFINITY almost immediately.
I have an extra, special affinity for Blog Post #118 right here, because (unless I slow down a lot in future) it’s probably going to be the only one I’ll ever write where my age is half of the blog post number; in this case now, 59 = 118 ÷ 2.
Whenever in my life I might encounter the number 118 again…I will also think of Wout, an incredibly talented 12-year-old musician and super-gifted young mathematician at Musica Mundi School.
Pictured below, is part of Wout’s perfect solution to a fun wee prize puzzle that I sent on Wednesday night to everyone in the school, as we’re looking forward to celebrating several birthdays here this month.
18 is the only number in the left-hand column of the table for which an alternative solution (also using consecutive positive whole numbers) was possible: 5+6+7 makes 18, too.
How can we use Wout’s solution regarding 18 to find a sum of consecutive whole numbers that totals 118 instead of 18?
Well, 118 = 18 + 100 = 18 + (4 x 25), which prompts the idea of simply adding an extra 25 onto each of the four consecutive numbers that Wout used. In that way, 3+4+5+6=18 can be transformed to 28+29+30+31=118.
Time for another quick wee word puzzle/j😊ke…! I might ask my friend if any fit people come to her mind…to which she could respond with the practically perfect anagram, “People…I Tiffany“!
Enjoy your birthday, dear Tiffany, and I wish everyone a wonderful, happy weekend now t😊😊.
A friend of mine once asked me if I had an absolute favourite word. Though I was not expecting her question, I could answer almost immediately with “Love” because God is Love and, when people are kind and loving to each other, God’s love spreads in infinitely many good ways to touch more hearts.
Two of my favourite short Bible passages are:
“Be imitators of God, as beloved children.”—Ephesians 5:1
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”—Proverbs 22:6.
Of the many thousands of people whom I know, and billions whom I don’t yet know, everyone should matter to everyone. They should all be SP_ _ _ _ _ .
Please know that YOU ARE SP; y😊u’re truly SPECIAL.
Early this morning via Facebook, I wished very happy birthdays to Danielle and to Stevie, two of my friends there. Today is of course also the birthday of lots and lots of other people, including World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. Everyone is wished a wonderful day, and for Magnus a great game #4 in his current World Championship match with Ian Nepomniachtchi in Dubai.
Maybe your birthday is coming during the month of December…and if so, let’s say that your Big Birthday is on day number B (e.g. B=either 1, 2, 3,…, 30 or 31) in December…then TODAY is the only day in the whole year when I or anyone can actually wish you a super-happy birthday exactly B days early before December B 😊.
Whenever your birthday is, I want right now to wish a lovely HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOR YOU. Good reasons for doing it today, without delay, are that I’m here and able to do it now, and also (I couldn’t resist this one…) HAPPY BIRTHDAY (13 letters) x FOR (3 letters) x YOU (3 letters) is nice because 13 x 3 x 3 = 117 here in Blog Post #117 😊.
I will round off with a wee selection of beautiful ‘happy memory’ photos. Each one is, in its own way, a good reminder to me of ‘Love Like A Child’.
Once in the theatre within my last school, I asked the audience jokingly, “Does anyone here, anyone at all, know Mr. Mo’s favourite number?” Something like 300 hands shot up instantly as every student knew that 3 had long been my absolute favourite number 😊😊😊.
In my current school, the beautiful Musica Mundi School, I am agent 003 to some colleagues who bear bravely with my sense of humour!
Early this morning, I sent a double dose of birthday fun jokes and puzzles to a dear friend who turns 67 today, but of course it had to become a triple…and so here we are in ‘003 Birthday Fun for a Great Friend’!
Remove the digit 6 from 67.
Replace it with 93. My joke/reasoning is: “What’s the difference? 9-3 is still 6.” 😊!
Now my weary 937-year-old friend is invited to figure out 0.03 x 937.
In reality, it’s a piece of cake that should light up his eyes because the result of 28.11 is to wish him a most happy birthday today (28 November), and is definitely to wish all of you a lovely Sunday now, t😊😊.
As my friend is a keen and good chess player, let’s round off with a freshly- baked homemade puzzle in which it’s either White to move and force checkmate in 003 moves OR Black to move and force checkmate in 007-003=004 moves!!
Congratulations, dear friends, for finding 1 Qd8+ Kh7 (or 1…Bf8 2 Qxf8+ Kh7 3 Bd3#) 2 Bd3+ Kh6 3 Qh4# for White or 1…Qb2+ 2 Kd3 Qd4+ 3 Kc2 Qc3+ 4 Kb1 Qb2#, checkmate for Black!
With kindest wishes as always,
Paul M😊twani xxx
What happy message can you get if you start with the word EVOLUTION, remove a TON of letters, and rearrange the remaining ones?
My favourite true answer is: I LOVE U 😊
In a joke that a friend posted a few days ago, a man tells his wife not to worry about her mistakes, but rather to embrace them. So, she immediately gives him a really big hug!
This is the perfect day to post nice surprises for Timothée (a brilliant young pianist at Musica Mundi School) because it’s his birthday, he’s a keen chess fan, and today marks the start of the World Chess Championship between Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, the reigning champion, and his Russian challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi. I can confirm that the first game (in progress right now) is already very exciting!
Where is the championship being held? I’ll answer that in the form of a wee puzzle/joke ! 😊
_ _ _ _ _ YOUR TICKETS TO _ _ _ _ _ !
The five ‘blanks’ at the end are for the name of the place, while the two + three ‘blanks’ at the start together sound practically the same as the place name, and we’ll get a proper six-word sentence!
Knowing where the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi really is being held, my answer is: DO BUY YOUR TICKETS TO DUBAI ! 😊
Alice, a young student who knows about the special significance of Armistice Day, 11.11, has the following conversation with Armand, her great-great-grandfather…
Alice: “Great-great-grandfather, my mum told me that you were born not very long after the end of World War I.”
Armand: “That’s right, Alice! As I know that you like Maths, I will tell you this: If you multiply my age now by my favourite whole number and then divide by the age I was last year, the final result should be 11.11.”
Alice: “Wow, that’s cool! I think I can figure out your age and your favourite number!!”
Armand: “Here’s a bonus puzzle: Make a proper 11-letter word using all the letters of CAN REMEMBER.”
Your fun challenge is to join Alice in cracking her great-great-grandfather’s puzzles!
I intend to publish solutions in a few days’ time.
With kindest wishes as always,
Paul Motwani 😊😊😊 xxx
P.S. Here are the puzzle solutions, being posted now on 12 November 2021:-
Armand is 101 years old and his favourite number is 11.