Method Extension

The Methods Committee is planning to propose some amendments to the Decision on Method Extension at the Central Council meeting in Peterborough this year. It will, of course, be up to the meeting to decide whether or not to accept the proposals. However, anyone who has attended a Council meeting will know that they do not always provide the best opportunity for detailed discussion of technical issues. This article is an attempt to address the problem by giving early notice of the possible amendments and encouraging discussion, either in the columns of The Ringing World or by letter directly to the Chairman of the Methods Committee. In this way we hope to reach a consensus and so produce a motion which will need little discussion in open Council.


At its meeting in 1949 the Central Council accepted a motion, submitted by the Universities Association, “That this Council undertakes to review the principles of method structure, with the purpose of adopting criteria for the recognition of the extended form of a basic method.” The motion was referred to the Methods Committee who presented an “interim” report the following year and a “final” report which was adopted in 1953. This Report on Extension was substantially amended in 1972, principally to cover odd-bell methods and make the lead-head requirement more general, and again in 1988 to cover the relationship between single and twin-hunt plain methods.

The Report and subsequent amendments were referred to by The Council’s Decisions but remained separate and, although the 1953 Report was available for a time in booklet form, as time passed this separation made it increasingly difficult for those interested in the subject to discover the rules. This problem was solved in 1989 when Council adopted a new Decision on Method Extension (Decision (G)) to replace the Report on Extension and the various amendments and bring all the earlier decisions together.

The new Decision appeared in the minutes of that Council meeting in The Ringing World of 2 March, 1990 (pp.235 and 236) and was intended to form a coherent and unambiguous set of rules. However, ringers approaching the subject for the first time will probably find it rather daunting and we suggest that they read a handout which we prepared for Council members to accompany the Decision and which was reprinted in The Ringing World of 16 June, 1989 (p.563). The Chairman of the Methods Committee will be pleased to provide copies of these items on receipt of an sae.

We are not suggesting any change to the general principle, that being the successive insertion of new sections, which are related to those of the parent. However, there are several amendments of an evolutionary nature under consideration which are described in the remainder of this article.

Proposition 1

Decision (E) D.4 (b) effectively requires that where there is more than one possible extension of a particular method then the relationship covering most stages shall have preference. This means, for example, that an extension of a Major method which produces another method at all higher even stages takes precedence over an extension which produces another method at alternate even stages (Maximus, Sixteen, et seq.). There have been two recent examples which suggest that this Decision may be unnecessarily restrictive. In addition to the two extensions of Turramurra Surprise Major to all higher even stages (EF EHI and FG SHI) there is an extension to alternate even stages (BC EFG) which may be considered more satisfactory since it retains Cambridge Surprise above the treble and group-b lead-heads. The other example is Liverpool Bob where the Maximus method rung recently (RW p.1039. construction DE SGH) may be considered as acceptable as the constructions which produce methods at all higher stages (DE EGH and DE SFG). The Decision could be amended to read “any relationship covering an indefinite number of stages shall have preference over a relationship covering a limited number of stages.”

Proposition 2

Beverley Surprise Minor extends to all stages (BC SEF with the half-lead place expanding as permitted by A.2 (b) ii.) and the Major was rung recently (RW p.92). Before attempting the peal the conductor confirmed with the Committee that the extension conformed with Decision (G). However, the extension has a surprising feature, in that it introduces three consecutive blows in thirds place. When the Report on Extension was adopted in 1953, methods with more than two consecutive blows in the same position were considered irregular and so the question did not arise. The loophole could be closed by a new A.1 (g), “The extension of a method must not have a bell making more consecutive blows than are made at the related position in the parent”

Proposition 3

The next three propositions are concerned with removing the differences between the rules above and below the treble. Permit construction CD below the treble so that places in an extension may be related to the places when the treble is in 23 in the same way that places above the treble may be related to the places when the treble is in stage-2, stage-1.

Proposition 4

Permit construction AB above the treble so that places in an extension may be related to the lead-end places in the same way that places below the treble may be related to the half-lead places.

Proposition 5

Permit static extension above the treble (see Figure 1).

Proposition 6

The extension of principles is not covered by the Decision. The simplest approach would be to treat them in the same way as Little methods (A.1 (b)) and require identical internal places at all stages of extension. This would regularise the eleven principles which have so far been rung at more than one stage but, with the exception of Original (odd and even stages), would prevent Double principles from extending to Double principles. This is already the case with Little methods! Another approach would be to permit extension by “modes” where mode-n would mean places above nths place expanding, with a requirement that contiguous places be retained, that is, mode-n not permitted when there are places in n, n+1.

Proposition 7

Extension by “modes” where mode-m below the treble would mean places above mths place expanding and mode-m above the treble would mean places below mths place from the back expanding from the back. This would be a generalization of the formula with the present expanding and static constructions as the special cases mode-1 and mode-infinity respectively. An. Bn, Cn, etc., below the treble would be derived in a mode-m extension from A. B, C, etc., by expanding all places above mths place n positions from the lead. A change would be necessary in the meaning of the notation above the treble with A, B. C, etc., being counted from the back and An, Bn, Cn, etc., being derived from A, B, C, etc., by expanding all places below mths place from the back n positions from the back, for example, if B at Major were x36x, then B at Royal would be x58x and, in a mode-3 extension, B2 would be x38x (see Figure 2).

Proposition 8

Extension in steps of four stages by inserting four new sections, related to those in the parent, in addition to extension in steps of two stages as at present (see Figure 3).

Adoption of a combination of these propositions would regularise Superlative Surprise Major, Maximus, Sixteen, etc., which extends ABCD above, FGHI below, mode-3.


If you have an opinion on any of the suggestions, do let us know, whether you support or oppose, any or all of them.

Anthony P Smith
Chairman, Methods Committee
72 Buriton Road, Winchester
Hants, SO22 6JE

Static Extension above the treble.

Extension SBCRoyalA2B2C2B2C2D2E2F2G2H2I2
Extension SCDRoyalA2B2C2D2C2D2E2F2G2H2I2
Extension SDERoyalA2B2C2D2E2D2E2F2G2H2I2
Extension SEFRoyalA2B2C2D2E2F2E2F2G2H2I2
Extension SFGRoyalA2B2C2D2E2F2G2P2G2H2I2
  1. Wherever the parent has a place made immediately above the path of the treble, this characteristic must be retained in all extensions.

  2. At the treble’s lead, seconds place and any further places adjacent to it may remain static.

Figure 1. (see proposition 5)

(a) Extension above the treble.

Extension BCRoyalA2B2C2BCDEFGHI
Extension CDRoyalA2B2C2D2CDEFGHI
Extension DERoyalA2B2C2D2E2DEFGHI
Extension EFRoyalA2B2C2D2E2F2EFGHI
Extension FGRoyalA2B2C2D2E2F2G2FGHI

(b) Extension below the treble.

Extension DERoyalABCDED2E2F2G2H2I2
Extension EFRoyalABCDEFE2F2G2H2I2
Extension FGRoyalABCDEFGF2G2H2I2
Extension GHRoyalABCDEFGHG2H2I2
Extension HIRoyalABCDEFGHIH2I2
  1. Wherever the parent has a place made immediately above or below the path of the treble, this characteristic must be retained in all extensions.

  2. Wherever the parent has contiguous places made, this characteristic must be retained in all extensions.

Figure 2. (see proposition 7)

(a) Extension above the treble.

Extension BCDEMaximusABCDEB4C4D4E4F4G4H4I4
Extension CDEFMaximusABCDEFC4D4E4F4G4H4I4
Extension DEFGMaximusABCDEFGD4E4F4G4H4I4

(b) Static Extension below the treble.


(c) Expanding Extension below the treble.

Extension EDEFGMaximusABCDEFGD4E4F4G4H4I4
Extension EEFGHMaximusABCDEFGHE4F4G4H4I4

Subject to the usual restrictions and concessions.

Figure 3. (see proposition 8)

The Ringing World, February 21, 1992, pages 198 to 199