Cambridge Surprise Major

Notes on Learning Cambridge Surprise

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Cambrige is based on two main elements, treble bob hunting and places. The places are always the same, whatever position they are in and whichever direction you are going – dodge, far place, near place, dodge with the treble, far place, near place, dodge. Most of the rest of the method is treble bob hunting but missing out dodges where you have to pass through another bell’s places.

The place bell order, starting at 2, always starts 2nds then 6ths. In Minor 3rds place bell comes next and is the pivot bell. The second half of the course is then 4ths and 5ths place bells bringing you back to 2nds. Thus the lead end order is 2,6,3,4.5. On more than 6 bells, the extra place bells get inserted between 6ths and 3rds in the first half of the course and between 4ths and 5ths in the second half.

First of all, before looking at Minor or Major, have a look at the line for Cambridge S. Maximus; not because you are going to learn or try to ring it but because it is easier to see the pattern the more bells you have.

3rds place bell is always the pivot bell and treble bob hunts to the back where it does a double dodge up, lie behind, dodge with the treble and make a place underneath the treble at the half lead. As it is the pivot bell, it now does the same work in reverse; dodge with the treble, lie behind, double dodge down and then treble bob hunt down to dodge 3/4 and become 4ths place bell.

2nds place bell always starts with “Cambridge front work” which is dodge with the treble, lead, seconds, dodge, lead, dodge. In fact if you look at it as a whole, including the end of 5ths place bell, the front work is really treble bob lead followed by 1/2 places. Because it is at the front you have to dodge both ways with the treble and the places and treble bob leads share a dodge. In practice, most people don’t think of it in this way, preferring just to learn it as a piece of work from the lead head.

After completing the front work, 2nds place bell treble bob hunts out to the back but misses out the dodge in the last internal position – 9/10 in Maximus, 7/8 in Royal, 5/6 in Major and 3/4 in Minor – and then does a double dodge up at the back before lying behind and treble bob hunting down to 6ths place bell.

6ths place bell always starts by going straight in to lead and dodge (this happens in very few surprise methods). It then starts a “carousel” of treble bob hunting and places. In this half of the course, all the places are made on the way up to the back. The first set of places is in the highest internal position (9/10 in Maximus, 5/6 in Major). After doing treble bob lie behind, it treble bob hunts to the front but misses out the dodges either side of where it passes the treble (because it passes through the places being made round the treble). In Maximus, therefore, it dodges 9/10 (to become 10ths place bell) and 7/8 but misses out the dodges in 5/6 and 3/4. In Major it also misses out the dodges in 5/6 and 3/4 and therefore, in effect, plain hunts from the back to the front.

This pattern continues on any number of bells with each set of places being made one position earlier than the previous set, i.e. in Maximus the places come in the order 9/10, 7/8, 5/6, 3/4 and in Major it’s just 5/6, 3/4.

The second half of the course is just the reverse of the first half so the places are made going down and again, start in the furthest possible dodging position and get one position earlier each time.

There are some useful signposts when ringing Cambridge on any number.
All dodges at the back, except those with the treble round the half lead in 3rds place bell, are with your course and after bells.

One of the problems with Cambridge is that you do not meet the bells in the coursing order when you below the treble, however, above the treble you do pass the bells in the coursing order except where you miss out dodges to pass through someone else’s places.
Your course bell goes through the 2nd half of your places up (i.e. when you are above the treble) and your after bell goes through the first half of your places down (again, when above the treble).

If you don’t understand what is meant by course and after bells, see the separate paper on Coursing.

The treble provides a useful marker in many places. You always dodge with the treble in the middle of places. When you are going to make places down, you strike over the treble at handstroke after the first dodge so that tells you to make places.

In 5ths place bell, when you do the double dodge down at the back, you always strike over the treble on the handstroke before the second dodge; that tells you to do another dodge. This feature occurs in many methods so is worth noting.

When you’ve done your dodge and lead on the front (8ths place bell in Major), you will pass the treble in 2/3 on your way out; that tells you that you have to dodge 5/6 up and become 5ths place bell. This again occurs in quite a lot of methods so is worth noting.