Non-Standard Surprise Minor

Following the first part of Adrian Sweeting's webinar about the "Standard 41" Surprise Minor methods, I was wondering what was the least standard Surprise Minor method. I suspect there are lots, so perhaps I should look for the least standard named Surprise Minor method.

So, what are the criteria for the Standard 41?

Firstly, it has to be a Surprise method - i.e. a treble dodging method having internal places at every cross-section between the treble's dodging positions. For Minor, as Adrian said, this means that a place must be made by the bell dodging with the treble in 3-4, both before and after the dodge, so you will always have 4ths-dodge-3rds or 3rds-dodge-4ths.

Then it must have

Palindromic symmetry means that the second half of the lead has the same place notation as the first half, but in the reverse order.

Regular lead ends are those from Plain Bob. They don't have to appear in the same order as in Plain Bob, so the method could have either 2nds place or 6ths place made at the lead end.

An example that doesn't have regular lead ends is King Edward Surprise Minor, which is a half-lead variant of Cambridge; like Ipswich, it only differs from Cambridge in one change each lead; the one when the treble is lying behind. In King Edward, 3rds is made rather than 5ths. You can see the grids compared below; being a palindromic method, we only need half the lead, so the half-lead is at the bottom of the diagram. With a 2nds place lead end, like Cambridge, this gives a lead end of 154632, which isn't a Plain Bob lead end.

Cambridge King Edward

Although you can't have more than two consecutive blows in one place in the plain course, it's worth noting that you can have 4 blows in one place at a call, for instance at a Single in London, where 4 blows are made in 3rds place. But this is why you can't have the 6ths place lead end version of London, as that would have 4 blows behind in the plain course.

Continuing the theme above of tweaking Cambridge to make it non-standard, we can get three blows in one place by changing a 3-4 dodge to 3-4 places, either at the lead or half-lead. The version below has the half-lead dodge in 3-4 changed to places.

Cambridge Wickham Market


A single change is one where only a single pair of bells swap in a change, i.e. place notations 1234, 1236, 1256, 1456 or 3456 are not permitted.

And, finally, no places made in 5ths mean we can only use the 56 place notation at the half-lead. This restriction was historically aimed at avoiding rows ending in 65 at backstroke, as this was deemed unmusical.

For another example derived from Cambridge, we could replace the double-dodge in 5-6 with places (as we would, to change St Simon's Doubles to St Martin's). In doing this, we have also introduced some single changes too - you should be able to see changes with place notations 1456 and 1256, both of which are single changes. The plain course of the resulting method is false, so it's perhaps not surprising that it hasn't been named, although it would still be an acceptable method and a 1440 could be rung.

Cambridge un-named

So, how many of these rules can we "break", to make the method as "non-standard" as possible?

I looked at this by drawing out the grid for a half-lead of the method on squared paper, then putting the resulting place notation into the website, to see if it has been named. For instance this is how I entered the place notation for King Edward above; note that you have to specify "Minor" for the stage.

Complib is also useful, as it can tell you the names of the works above and below the treble and give lead-end and half-lead variants of the method.

So we start like this. I've put in the places next to the treble in 3-4 which are needed for a Surprise Minor method.

Then put in the non-standard features that you would like, hopefully as many as possible of the list above - multiple blows in one place, single changes and places in 5ths. Don't worry too much about getting irregular lead-ends; they are more likely than regular ones anyway. (It's also possible that you will get a method with a course fewer than 5 leads in length).

For instance, here I've put in not just one but two sets of 5ths. Then I've got a 1236 single change. And put three blows in lead.

Then you can fill in the rest of the grid however you like. I've tended to keep it fairly simple, in the hope of getting a named method, with just dodging and hunting, but feel free to go wild! I ended up with this grid:

It only remains to choose a lead end change; I went for the a conventional 2nds place method. Then putting the place notation (X56X14X56X1236.14X14.36,12) into, I got a method with lead end 154632, which is irregular. So all good, but not named (and neither is the 6ths place version; I checked).

So, now it's up to you. Have a play and let me know how non-standard you can get...

Or you can cheat and use the search facility in Complib.

You can see that I have eliminated Regular methods by putting a 'X' against Plain Bob leadheads, and I've also ruled out Palindrimic symmetry. You can also try having 4 blows in one place. One interesting result that this throws up is Nigel's Mathematical Surprise Minor, which was claimed as the first treble bob hunt Minor method rung with non-palindromic double symmetry. (Note that you have to sign up (for free) to be able to login to Complib to access the advanced search functions).