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.

1 comment

  • Susan Irvine says:

    Bril­liant. Thanks. I haven’t been able to get my head around this & count­less clev­er people have tried to explain it & failed.
    I think this explains it brilliantly 👏

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