Using ‘place bells’

We are ringing away in Bob Doubles, knowing a call may come soon, trying to remember which of the 3 responses (run in, run out, make the bob) will be the right one, whilst trying to remember the method itself.

Brain overload….and so we crash out…..

There’s an easier way. I was taught this technique as I was learning Kent Minor, but thought that I’d have found it really useful even earlier, from Plain Bob Doubles onwards. It means there’s less to remember when approaching a possible call – which is why I think it makes it easier. Whatever stage you are at in your ringing journey, I hope you find this page helpful.

A word of warning – this is one of those cases where a written explanation is necessarily long, and may make the whole thing seem more complex than it is. I’ve tried to explain each step carefully, which makes it quite long. I suggest you work through it steadily, with graph paper to hand to check for yourself how the bits of the method stitch together in the manner described. 

The idea is to look at the method is a slightly different way. Instead of considering the shape of the blue line of the method in its entirety, we break it up into the separate parts that each bell rings during the first lead. Here’s the shape of all the working bells in Bob Doubles for the first lead, all together, then replicated individually, so you can see the shape of each place-bell’s work during the lead:

All working bells   2nd   3rd   4th   5th

If we can remember the line of each place bell, we are poised to find an easier way to deal with bobs.

In a plain course of Bob Doubles, the full method consists of ringing the individual place bell work in the following order: 2, 4, 5 & 3 (assuming we’re starting with the 2nd).

So, if ringing the 2nd place bell in a plain course, we would expect to start ringing 4ths place work at the start of the next lead, then the work of 5th place bell at the end of the next lead, then 3rds place bell work in the last lead, before getting back to 2nds place as it comes round. Still with me? If not, draw out those individual place bell lines in the order 2, 4, 5, 3 and you’ll see it’s the blue line for Bob Doubles.

So far so plain course. What about bobs?

A ‘bob’ changes which place-bell-work we are about to do. As we come to the end of the 2nd-place-bell work we would normally become 4th placed bell. The final 3 blows are in 4th, then 3rd, then 4th again (see the pale blue line above).  However, when a bob is called, instead of becoming 4th-placed-bell, we move to becoming 2nd-place-bell i.e. the last 3 blows would be 4th, 3rd, then 2nd (to be 2nd-place-bell we need to be in 2nd place, of course!). We then ring the work of 2nd-place-bell.

If you draw out on graph paper the work of ringing 2nds place bell, then ringing it again at the lead end, instead of ringing 4ths-place-bell work, and you’ll see that instead of dodging 3/4 down, you ‘run in’ and do the 3/4 down dodge at the end of the next lead.

Taking another example, when we are coming to the end of 3rds place bell work (expecting to become 2nds place bell) but a ‘bob’ is called, we instead become 3rds place bell. So the last 3 blows in a plain course (second blow in lead, 2nds place, 2nds place again – making seconds), after a ‘bob’ becomes second blow in lead, 2nds place, 3rds place, and we then ring the 3rds-place-bell work.

Finally, if coming to the end of 5ths place bell work, and are about to become 3rds place bell, a ‘bob’ call means that we become 4ths place bell instead. So the last 3 blows which were going to be 3rds, 4ths, 3rds become 3rds, 4ths, 4ths.

Why am I saying that this is an easy way to learn? Because if we know the place-bell elements of the overall blue line, then all we have to remember when a bob is called, is that at the lead end we shift place bell in the following manner:

2nds becomes 3rds; 3rds becomes 4ths & 4ths becomes 2nds:-

 Bob changes

And that’s true in Bob Doubles, Bob Minor, Bob Anything. Also Cambridge Surprise Minor, Annables London Surprise, and LOADS more.

A similar simple rule (4ths to 5ths; 5ths to 6ths and 6ths to 4ths) applies to Kent, Oxford and loads others.

Having to remember just those changes is a LOT easier than having to remember the “work at the bob” for each individual method.

Worried about Singles? They’re even easier! 3rds place bell becomes 4th place bell, and vice versa – 4ths place bell becomes 3rd place bell. That’s all you have to remember 🙂

So if you start thinking in terms of place bells, it’ll be a lot easier in the long term.

I don’t see this as an advanced technique, only of use to ringers learning Cambridge Surprise (which is when many are introduced to the notion). I would have found it easier to get to grips with Plain Bob than trying to remember the ‘run in, run out , make the bob’ rues, simultaneously remembering when to apply them.

I ought to add that this technique doesn’t work for Grandsire or Stedman, where the bobs / singles have different effects, so newer ringer will find it useful for Plain Bob-based methods, and when they get to Kent / Oxford and beyond. But it’s a good way of thinking about methods which will yield long term benefits.

Good luck with it!

Andrew Drury, Ilkley

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