Cambridge is the most commonly rung Surprise Minor method. Ringing Cambridge is a big step-up from plain methods like Plain Bob or Grandsire, but it can be broken down to be made easier to learn.
It’s tempting to try to learn the method as a single long line, with chunks of work joined up by hunting and dodging (perhaps assisted by noticing that the method is symmetrical). This might seem like a logical approach after learning rules-based methods like Plain Bob (pass the treble in X, do Y) or Kent (dodge unless the treble is below you in 3/4), but this tutorial will instead guide you through learning the method lead-by-lead with an emphasis on noting where the place starts occur. This will mean:
- You know all the place starts, so bobs and singles are easier.
- You can ring any bell without having to look up where to start.
- When people say things like “you’ll be become 5ths place bell at backstroke!” their words make sense.
- Ringing spliced is a less daunting prospect.
Let’s consider each lead in turn.
2nds Place Bell (Frontwork)
The first half of 2nds place bell contains the “forwards” half of Cambridge frontwork, which goes: “Dodge, lead seconds, dodge, lead, dodge”. Note that the seconds is over the same bell as you then immediately dodge with (there is nowhere else for them to go), and that the final dodge of the frontwork happens at the half-lead (when the treble lies behind).
Finish the lead by hunting to the back, double-dodging up and then dodging down at the lead end to become 6ths place bell. You may find it useful to remember that the double-dodge goes on the side closest to the frontwork.
6ths Place Bell (Places Up)
The 2nd half of this lead is filled by Cambridge Places in 3/4 up, but the lead begins by hunting down to the front, leading and, dodging up. You may find it helpful to remember that the dodge is on the same side of the lead as the places.
The places themselves go: “dodge, far place, near place, dodge, far place, near place, dodge”.
Observe how the middle dodge of the places is always with the treble, the first and last place are over/under the treble’s dodge, the first dodge is at the half-lead, and the last dodge is at the lead-end. This structure provides some helpful checkpoints.
The lead finishes at the last dodge of the places, and you become 3rds place bell.
3rds Place Bell (Backwork)
3rds place bell consists entirely of what is referred to as “the backwork”, and starts at the dodge at the end of the 3/4 places up.
You double-dodge up, lie, and dodge down with the treble. You then make 5ths under the treble at the half lead and do the same backwards. Dodge up, lie, double-dodge down and go down to start 3/4 places down.
You’ll probably find this to be one of the more straightforward parts of the method once you get the hang of the interaction with the treble. Being at the back for so long gives you an easy view over all the other bells.
4ths Place Bell (Places Down)
4ths place bell is 6ths place bell backwards. The first half of the lead consists of places down which go (the same as places up): “dodge, far place, near place, dodge, far place, near place, dodge”.
While the basic structure is identical, the dodges are down dodges (over at backstroke) and ‘far’ here means 3rds place not 4ths.
Finish the lead by dodging then leading (the dodge is near the places as in 6ths place bell), hunting to the back, and dodging 5/6 up.
5ths Place Bell (Frontwork)
5ths place bell is the opposite of 2nds place bell. The second half consists of the frontwork, which begins at the half-lead dodge.
Begin by lying behind and double-dodging down. As in 2nds place bell, the double-dodge goes on the same side of lying behind as the frontwork does.
Then go: “dodge, lead, dodge, seconds, lead, dodge”, and make 2nds over the treble to finish the lead and become 2nds place bell.
Putting it all together
Now that you know each part of the method, try ringing through a full plain course. Each lead end and half lead is marked.
Calls are in theory the same as Plain Bob and are done by swapping the 12 lead end to 14 (Bob) or 1234 (Single). This results in a bell making 4ths and the front bells either running in/out (in a Bob) or making a place (in a Single).
As you have learnt each lead separately you should hopefully know when the end of the lead is approaching, and be able to use your knowledge of place starts to quickly pick up the line after the call.
If you are about to make 2nds in the middle of the frontwork, then instead run out and become 3rds place bell (backwork). If you are just coming down from the backwork and about to start 3/4 places down, then run in and pick up 2nds place bell (frontwork). If you are coming to the end of 3/4 places up, then make 4ths instead of the final dodge, become 4ths place bell, and then do 3/4 places down (without the dodge at the start).
- Practice Out
- Practice In
- Practice Make
If you are just coming down from the backwork and about to start 3/4 places down, then make 3rds (over the bell making 2nds), then turn around and do the backwork again. If you’re doing the frontwork then you’re unaffected by a single. If you are coming to the end of 3/4 places up, then you make 4ths instead of the final dodge in the same way as in a bob (although both blows in 4ths are over the same bell).
- Practice Make 3rds
- Practice Make 4ths
Hopefully this tutorial has helped with some of the learning so you can make the most of any practical experience you’re able to get.
After learning Cambridge you may want to try one of the other commonly rung Surprise Minor methods. London and Norwich are good options. Or you may wish to continue the Cambridge theme by learning the other 11 “Cambridge-over” methods in the Standard 42 Surprise Minor.