Cambridge Maximus

We are just back from a handbell weekend in Tulloch, hosted by Helen McGregor and Peter Bevis. Saturday was the general handbell day, with practice sessions and quarters including Plain Bob Minor (Thomas Gay's first quarter), Stedman Triples, Yorkshire Major and Kent Royal. We had also planned to spend Sunday morning practising Cambridge Maximus, with the help of the talented Jack Page. We've had occasional ad hoc attempts at Cambridge before, but this time we took a more systematic approach and allocated pairs in advance so that some homework could be done.

We rang a series of half courses, and later worked our way onto full courses. We started with fairly slow ringing, and found that the speed naturally increased slightly as we became more confident. By the end we felt that we had made enough progress to be able to think about a peal attempt later in the year.

We have previously discussed the advantages of Cambridge over Yorkshire for handbell ringing. One of these is that dodging is synchronised above and below the treble. so it's only when passing the treble that one bell of a pair hunts while the other one dodges. Another nice feature is that each pair has at least some coursing. However, I think what's relevant is not so much the intrinsic difficulty of any particular pair, but the benefit of becoming familiar with the work of a pair so that there's less need to work it out in real time.

I started ringing the tenors, but later I tried 5-6, without having thought about the work of that pair. I was slightly surprised to find myself making 6ths and 9ths place simultaneously, while doing 5-6 places and 9-10 places. This shouldn't have been surprising; the place notation when the treble dodges 7-8 is 169T, and it turns out that the bells making 6ths and 9ths place at that point are in the 5-6 position relative to each other.

The fact that the 3-4 position includes overlapping Cambridge places in adjacent positions (3-4 and 5-6 in Major; also 5-6 and 7-8 in Royal, and so on) is familiar, but I hadn't thought about other ways for two sets of places to overlap.  The diagram shows how it works; in Maximus it can happen with 3-4 and 7-8 places, or with 5-6 and 9-10 places. Both of these are in the 5-6 course.

This structure also occurs in Cambridge Royal with 3-4 and 7-8 places, and this is also in the 5-6 course. I don't particularly remember ever doing that work in Cambridge Royal; maybe I have never rung it on 5-6. Anyway, it's now on my list of memorable features and next time it comes up, it will be a stabilising aid instead of a surprise.

So, a satisfying weekend all round, and we are pleased to be getting better at 12-bell ringing.