Thinking allowed

singles in Stedman Doubles

On a good practice night we have enough ringers able to ring Stedman Doubles, and we are gradually getting better at it, and more people are able to cope with singles so that we can ring an extent of 120 changes, rather than just a plain course of 60.

Singles in Stedman Doubles seem to cause quite a bit of confusion. They also have a number of nicknames or mnemonics which aim to remind the ringer what to do. A common pair of nicknames is “cat’s ears” and “coathangers”, referring to the actions taken by the two bells affected by the call. I could never get used to these, especially “coathangers” and worked out my own way of dealing with singles.

The first thing to remember is that Stedman consists of three bells on the front which plain hunt for six blows, and then change direction, together with pairs of bells above third place which double dodge out to the back and then back down to the front again. In Stedman Doubles the only double dodging is in 4-5 up and 4-5 down. And the important thing to remember is that a single affects only the pair of bells double-dodging in 4-5 up and down. The three bells on the front are entirely unaffected by the call.

The effect of a single is to swap two bells over, and in Stedman Doubles it swaps over the two bells that are double-dodging 4-5 up and down. That’s really all you need to know. The ringer who started out thinking that they were going to double-dodge 4-5 up has to turn around swap places with the ringer who started out thinking they were going to double-dodge 4-5 down. And vice-versa.

Or to put that another way, if you are double-dodging 4-5 up and a single is called then you become the bell double-dodging 4-5 down. And if you are the bell double-dodging 4-5 down then you become the bell double-dodging 4-5 up. (Of course in both cases the double-dodges up and down are not really double-dodges because they are incomplete, but we can gloss over that complexity.)

What does this mean in practice? Let’s consider, first, the bell that would, if there were no single, double-dodge 4-5 up. The ringer will count their place something like this:

  • fourth, fifth, fourth, fifth, fourth, fifth

and then they will lie at the back and double dodge 4-5 down.

Meanwhile the ringer who would be double-dodging 4-5 down with them will count their place something like this:

  • fifth, fourth, fifth, fourth, fifth, fourth

and then go down to the front, either as a quick bell or a slow bell.

The effect of the single is to swap the two bells over at the fourth stroke (a handstroke) of these six changes, so that the bell that starts dodging up ends up dodging down:

  • fourth, fifth, fourth, fourth, fifth, fourth

This bells is now dodging down, so it must next go down to the front.

Meanwhile the bell that starts dodging down ends up dodging up

  • fifth, fourth, fifth, fifth, fourth, fifth

This bell is now dodging up, so it must lie in 5th place and double-dodge down before joining the front work, either as quick bell or as slow.

As for whether you go in quick or slow: if you are affected by one single (or by an odd number of singles) then you do the opposite of what you would otherwise have done. If you came out quick and would have gone in slow, then after a single you go in quick. Or if you came out slow and would have gone in quick, then instead you go in slow. (That’s because you have swapped places with the the other bell, and it becomes the bell that does what you would have done, and you become the bell that does what it would have done!)

For me, this is where blue lines explaining the single — helpful though blue lines generally are — here just complicate matters. In this instance I find it easier just to switch from ringing one place bell (4th’s place) to ringing another (5th’s). Or vice versa.

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Calling Bob Minor: a different composition

Thanks to Tim Rose’s website here is a composition for a quarter of Bob Minor that looks to be rather easier to call than the one I considered before. Tim does a pretty good job of describing the composition, but for the sake of completeness and to aid my own understanding I’ll put it all in my own words.

As in the previous composition, this quarter consists of a 720 followed by a 540, making 1260 changes in total.

First we look at a plain course of Bob Minor. The lead ends (when the treble leads at backstroke) look like this:

123456
135264 (3 make 2nd’s, 5 3-4 up, 2 3-4 down, 6 5-6 up, 4 5-6 down)
156342 (5 make 2nd’s, 6 3-4 up, 3 3-4 down, 4 5-6 up, 2 5-6 down)
164523 (6 make 2nd’s, 4 3-4 up, 5 3-4 down, 2 5-6 up, 3 5-6 down)
142635 (4 make 2nd’s, 2 3-4 up, 6 3-4 down, 3 5-6 up, 5 5-6 down)
123456 (2 make 2nd’s, 3 3-4 up, 4 3-4 down, 5 5-6 up, 6 5-6 down)

This gives us 60 changes in a plain course, but if we call a bob just before it comes back to rounds the last row becomes
142356 bob (4 runs in, 2 runs out, 3 makes the bob, 5 dodges 5-6 up, 6 5-6 down)

If we do this three times, then the lead ends at each of the bobs are:

123456
142356 bob
134256 bob
123456 bob

These bobs are each called when the tenor is in the ‘home’ position, i.e. dodging 5-6 down. Now we have a touch of three courses or 180 changes.

We can extend each of these courses (each ending with the bob at ‘home’) by inserting some extra calls that don’t affect the course end. We can do this by adding in a different fairly simple touch of four calls, that turns each 60 into a 240. Each call is made when the tenor is dodging 5-6 up, i.e. at ‘wrong’. The four calls are bob, single, bob, single. The tenor, dodging in 5-6 up at each call, is unaffected by any of them, and after these four calls the touch comes back to rounds.

We can write out the lead ends starting from rounds thus:

123456
123564 bob ‘wrong’; 5 makes the bob
136245 plain: tenor dodges 3-4 up
164352 plain: tenor makes 2nd’s
145623 plain: tenor dodges 3-4 down
152436 plain: tenor dodges 5-6 down ‘home’

125364 single ‘wrong’; 5 makes the single
156243
164532
143625
132456

132564 bob ‘wrong’; 5 makes the bob
126345
164253
145632
153426

135264 single ‘wrong’; 5 makes the single
156342
164523
142635
123456

After 240 changes this comes back to rounds, but if a bob is called just before that, then it changes the last row to
142356 bob ‘home’; 5 and 6 unaffected

This is just what the simple touch (3 ‘home’s) did, and similarly, ringing this three times will then come back into rounds at 3 × 240 changes, i.e. after 720 changes so we have rung the first 720 of the quarter peal, an extent on 6 bells, or every possible combination.

The lead ends after each 240 are:
123456
142356 bob ‘home’
134256 bob ‘home’
123456 bob ‘home’ rounds
These are exactly the same course ends as we got with the simple “three homes” 180 touch.

We can continue to ring this pattern a further two times and then we shall have rung another 480 changes, each ending like this:
142356 bob ‘home’
134256 bob ‘home’

That makes 720 + 480 changes, or 1200. We need another 60 changes to reach 1260 for the quarter peal, and we need to get back to rounds. And that’s exactly what our simple “three homes” touch does — its last course of 60 changes turns 134256 into 123456 with just one bob at the very end. See the lead ends for that simple touch at the start of this article. So we ring the last 60 of that 180, omitting the bob-single-bob-single at ‘wrong’ that we used to extend the 60 into a 240.

The quarter peal becomes:
bob ‘wrong’, single ‘wrong’, bob ‘wrong’, single ‘wrong’, bob ‘home’ — repeat 5 times in total
bob ‘home’.

Or to spell it out in more detail:

bob, plain, plain, plain, plain;
single, plain, plain, plain, plain;
bob, plain, plain, plain, plain;
single, plain, plain, plain, bob;
repeat all the above 5 times in total, then finish with
plain, plain, plain, plain, bob.

Several other features make this easy for the learning band:

  • The tenor rings plain courses throughout, unaffected by the calls which always occur when it is in 5-6 up or 5-6 down.
  • The 5 makes 3rd’s at every single; no other bell needs to worry about making the single; this is very helpful if not all the band are fully confident about singles
  • The 5 also makes 4th’s at every bob at ‘wrong’, and dodges 5-6 up with the tenor at every bob at ‘home’
  • Otherwise the calls permute the 2, 3, and 4. In each 240 one of them will be unaffected, dodging 5-6 down with the tenor at every call: in the first 240 this is the 4, in the second the 3 and in the third the 2. The fourth is the same as the first, so the 4 is unaffected, and the fifth is the same as the second, so the 3 is.
  • When there is a bob at ‘home’ at the end of each 240, it comes one lead earlier than a bob or single would otherwise have been called
  • And then the bob at ‘wrong’ is the very next lead.

Update

Steve Coleman discusses this QP composition (and the earlier one) in his Bob Caller’s Companion (which along with his other ringing books is available here). He suggests the other one is the simpler. He also makes a couple of interesting observations. First is to call the 540 before rather than after the 720, and to call the 60 at the start of the 540 rather than at the end. The advantage of this is that the 60 is a complete plain course, starting from rounds and just as it’s about to come back to rounds there’s a bob, and then the sequence of five 240s begins. So the variation in the composition is at the start — and if anything goes wrong you can start again, with a only a few minutes wasted. If this is done, then after that first bob it’s the 3 that is unaffected in the first 240, then the 2, then 4, 3, and 2 respectively. The composition comes back to rounds with the bob at ‘home’ at the very end of the fifth 240.

Coleman also notes that this block of W-SW-W-SW-H can be used for a QP of Bob Major. Instead of there being 240 changes in each part (12 changes in each lead, 4×5=20 leads in each part), in Major there are 448 (16 changes per lead, 4×7=28 leads per part), and so ringing it three times is 1344 changes, at which point it comes back to rounds without anything else needed and that will suffice for a QP. In Major, 6, 7 and 8 are all unaffected by all the bobs and singles, ringing plain courses throughout. The 5 front bells do all the same work as they do in Minor, with the addition of hunting to 8th place and back, and dodging 7-8 down and up.

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Calling Bob Minor, further thoughts

Another aspect of calling a long touch — let alone a quarter peal — is remembering where you’ve got to, and what happens next.

The only long touches I’ve previously called have been quarter peals of bob doubles, where the problem is keeping track of calling exactly 10 120s, and not losing track of how many you have rung so far. For that method I’ve adopted the technique of associating each successive 120 with a particular bell, so that you call a 120 associated with the 2, then a 120 associated with the 3, then the 4, then the 5; then another 120 associated with the 2, then the 3, 4 and 5 in turn; and then yet another 120 associated with the 2, then the 3 — and then you’ve rung 10 120s.

The advantage of this aide memoire is that while ringing you just have to remember which bell is associated with that 120, and at the end of the 120 you move on to the next bell. And you have to remember whether this is the first sweep, the second, or the last (half-)sweep, but that is very considerably easier to do, partly because counting to 2 is an awful lot easier than counting to 10, and also because a look at the clock will give you a pretty clear indication of which sweep you’re in. Two further points about Bob Doubles. First, it is very easy to associate a particular bell with each 120, because in any 120 a particular bell will be the observation bell, unaffected by the calls, and the conductor is focussing on that bell and calling bobs when it is about to ring 4 blows in 5th place. So it is easy and natural to associate a bell with a 120 and to remember which bell it is at any moment. The second point is a footnote to anyone reading this who might be setting out to ring a quarter of Bob Doubles: don’t forget that 10 120s is only 1200 changes and you need to add another 60 to get to the quarter peal.

So how is this applicable to quarters of Bob Minor, and particularly to the composition discussed? One idea is to use a similar counting scheme to keep track of the courses of the composition. In a 1260 of Bob Minor there are 105 leads of 12 blows each, or 21 courses of 60 blows each. Each course is 5 leads in length and at the end of each the tenor — which is entirely unaffected by all the calls of Bob and Single — returns to its ‘home’ position of dodging 5-6 down. Unfortunately, and unlike the Bob Doubles counting scheme, there is no obvious and easy natural association of a course with a different bell.

What we have instead is a 720 of 12 courses followed by a 540 of 9 courses. If we allocate all 6 bells to a course then that is twice through the bells for the 720, and one and a half sweeps through for the 540:

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
3: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
4: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
5: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
6: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
3: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
4: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
5: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
6: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home) which completes the 720

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)
3: plain, plain, plain, plain, single (home)

4: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
5: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)
6: plain, plain, plain, plain, single (home)

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)
3: plain, plain, plain, plain, single (home) which completes the 540

Does this help at all? I’m going to think about that!

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Calling Bob Minor

It’s a long time since I have written anything here, but I want to call a quarter peal, and Bob Minor is a plausible method. So I’d better work out how to do it.

This is based on a piece that appeared in Ringing World in 2008, of which I have a copy. But this is reconstructed from memory as part of my usual trick of trying to learn something new.

A quarter peal of Minor is 1260: a peal on seven bells or fewer is 5040 changes, which is the extent on seven bells, i.e. the maximum number of different changes which is 7! or 7×6×5×4×3×2. And a quarter of 5040 is 1260. (A peal on eight or more bells is 5000 changes.)

The basis of this quarter peal is a common touch of Bob Minor that I have called a number of times, which is to call bobs when the tenor is dodging 5-6 down and up (known as ‘home’ and ‘wrong’ respectively). If you call this twice then it comes back to rounds after 10 leads, which is 120 changes. The pattern of lead ends is: bob, plain, plain, plain, bob; and repeat bob, plain, plain, plain, bob. The three plain leads are when the tenor is among the front bells, dodging 3-4 down, making 2nds and dodging 3-4 up. Incidentally, this touch can be extended into a 240 by calling a single at any one of the lead ends, completing the 120, which now doesn’t come round, and then repeating the exact same pattern of calls at the lead end, including the single, and it will now come round at the end of the 240. I’ve called this a few times, and tried to call it a few more!

So we take this 120 of ‘bob, plain, plain, plain, bob; bob, plain, plain, plain, bob’, and omit the last bob. Instead of coming round this permutes the order of bells 2, 3 and 4. Instead of running in at a bob, the 2 dodges 3-4 down, becoming the 4th-place bell. Instead of running out, the 3 makes 2nd place, becoming the 2nd-place bell; and instead of making the bob, the 4 dodges 3-4 up, becoming the 3rd-place bell. So at the end of this part, after 120 changes, the order of the bells is:

134256

Repeat this, and, after 240 changes, the order will be
142356

And again, after 360 changes:
123456

But instead of letting this come round, we call a single, which swaps the 3 and 4:
124356

And now we can repeat that 360 to make a 720. At the end of the next three 120s with the matching single at the end, the order will be:
143256
132456
123456

720 changes is the extent on six bells, all the possible ways of arranging the six bells, i.e. 6! or 6×5×4×3×2 = 720.

The 720 consists of:
wrong, home, wrong, (plain at home)
wrong, home, wrong, (plain at home)
wrong, home, wrong, single at home
and repeat once more.

Or:
bob, plain, plain, plain, bob; bob, plain, plain, plain, plain;
bob, plain, plain, plain, bob; bob, plain, plain, plain, plain;
bob, plain, plain, plain, bob; bob, plain, plain, plain, single
and repeat once more.

To get up to 1260 we need to add another touch of 540.

Let’s go back to that basic block of 60 changes wrong-home-wrong-home. The lead ends look like this:

123456
The next lead would look like this if it were a plain lead:
135264
but we call a bob instead (at ‘wrong’) so, the 3 runs out, the 2 runs in and the 5 makes the bob:
123564 (after 12 changes)
Then there are 3 plain leads:
136245 (after 24 changes)
164352 (after 36 changes)
145623 (after 48 changes)

Then there’s a bob (a ‘home’), so we get
145236 (after 60 changes)

Repeat this, with a single at the end instead of a bob:
145362 (bob here ‘wrong’)
156423
162534
123645
132456 (single here ‘at home’ after 120 changes)

And ring a plain course with a single at the end:
125364 (no bob ‘wrong’)
156243
164532
143625
134256 (single ‘at home’ after 180 changes)

So in 180 changes we have gone from
123456
to
134256

If we repeat this 180 two more times we get:

142356 (360 changes)
123456 (rounds after 540 changes)

To summarize, the 540 is:
wrong, home,
wrong, single at home
(plain at wrong), single at home
and repeat twice more.

We put these two touches together, the extent of 720 and the touch of 540 and that’s 1260 changes, which is a quarter peal. I think I’ve understood it now — committing it to memory is the next task. Then trying it out, and also ensuring that those ringing 2, 3 and 4 can cope with the singles.

(Acknowledgements to Ringing World, 23 May 2008, article by Simon Linford.)

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