York Surprise Maximus

Submitted by Simon on Sat, 06/03/2021 - 20:59


On Monday we tried a quarter of York Maximus, with a band that didn't include a star conductor - so I ended up calling it. It was a little more difficult than we expected, and we didn't score. Also we didn't manage to ring a plain course afterwards. Oh well, we're going for it again next week.

The method has a simple regular structure, as you can see from the diagram. It's an extension of York Minor, but unlike minor it isn't Cambridge above the treble. Instead there are double dodges in 5-6 and above when the treble is in 2-3 and 3-4, with treble bob hunting for the rest of the backwork. In most place bells, a visit to the front consists of making 4ths on the way in and out, with 3rds and back in between. There are exceptions when the treble is near the front, and these are what caused a few problems, especially towards the end of the lead. The key points are that 7th and 5th place bells go to the front in the standard way but leave it differently.

I didn't do quite enough studying before the attempt. I was ringing 7-8, and I hadn't realised that there would be part of the course in which instead of meeting in 7-8 for dodges, I would be meeting and crossing in 6-7. This happens between one bell making 2nds at the lead end and the other bell making 2nds, so it's exactly the same as Plain Bob. So I found myself coming together in an unexpected way, which took a moment to get used to. Next time I will be prepared.

Finding a composition was also a little challenge. For surprise maximus it's always a question of getting a sensible length. Ringing three full courses is a simple option, but at 1584 it's rather long. York has Plain Bob place bell order, so the idea of two and a half courses, up to the wrong, which would be standard for Cambridge, doesn't work. I started thinking about using a big bob, i.e. an 8th place bob which has the effect of a before when called to make the tenor run out. This is a device that's sometimes used in peals to adjust the length, for example to get 5040 in methods with Cambridge place bell order. For York, calling a big before adds a lead, and the idea would be to ring two courses with an extra five or six leads to give 1296 or 1344. I realised that three befores and home, repeated, my favourite calling for Glasgow, would work, so that's what I called. Or would have done if we had got past the first bob. Better luck next time!

York is a good method on any number of bells for getting to grips with wrong-place ringing. It develops the skill of wrong hunting on the front with one bell while the other bell continues its treble bob work at the back. The 3rds place made from the front is a useful landmark as it coincides with a hunting step in the backwork. The best way to start the double dodges at the right time is to pay attention to the position of the treble, which is a good exercise in structural ringing.

We rang a quarter of York Major with the band of Simons, although I didn't write about it at the time. We are also using it as an introductory wrong-place surprise major method in Volume 2 of Change-Ringing on Handbells.