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:

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:

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:

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

132564 bob ‘wrong’; 5 makes the bob

135264 single ‘wrong’; 5 makes the single

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:
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.


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.


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!


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 7×6x5×4x3×2. 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:


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

And again, after 360 changes:

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

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:

720 changes is the extent on six bells, all the pos­sible ways of arran­ging the six bells, i.e. 6! or 6×5x4×3x2 = 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.

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:

The next lead would look like this if it were a plain lead:
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’)
132456 (single here ‘at home’ after 120 changes)

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

So in 180 changes we have gone from

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.)