A Complete Collection of Well-Formed Surprise Major Methods

By “well-formed” I mean methods that conform to a rather tight set of criteria, so the collection is complete in a fairly limited sense, with only 131,788 methods. The criteria are:

  1. Plain Bob lead-ends only.
  2. No places made in 7–8 above the treble.
  3. No more than two successive blows in one position.
  4. Only two places made in any row, i.e. no notation of the form [abcd].
  5. All treble sections have the form [-ab-] or [ab-cd], i.e. no sections of the form [ab.cd.ef], [ab.cd-], or [-ab.cd].
To some extent these criteria represent my prejudices about what constitutes a decent method, but they also serve to reduce the the search space to a reasonable 1.1 million methods. They probably eliminate a lot of interesting methods, but they eliminate a shedload of rubbish as well, so no apologies.

I’ve divided the methods up into 16 groups, to speed up browsing, and to make it easier to find a method with the characteristics you want.

This is done according to the type of work in each of the treble’s sections. In the links below, R represents a right-place section [-ab-] and W a wrong-place section [ab-cd]. Thus RRRR contains wholly right-place methods, whilst RWRR contains methods that have wrong places in the treble’s 3–4 section, and so on.

The most exciting methods are generally those with a mixture of right- and wrong-place sections, as they have more unexpected changes of direction (typically point blows). Thus the notation of Glasgow is WRRW, London and Belfast are WRWW, and Bristol is RWWR. If you want a method with plenty of movement, look for notations [38] and [58] in the first two sections and [14] and [16] in the last two.
The fields in each line are (1) the nominal method number within the file; (2) the lead-head group letter(s) with 2nd’s / 8th’s place variations indicated s/t; (3) the notation excluding the lead-end place; and (4) the tenors-together falseness groups.

The files are tab-separated plain text, with the methods in place-notation order. They can be loaded into a spreadsheet if you want to sort them on other fields, such as lead-head group or falseness. Use the File->Open dialogue (not drag-and-drop or cut-and-paste) and specify the notation column as text (not general) format, or Excel will garble notations starting with [-]. If you prefer the whole collection in one file, here’s a zipped version (3.8 Mb).

Important Note. I’ve made no attempt to identify methods which have been named. I did consider doing this, but the prospect of having to keep the information up-to-date was too daunting. If you find something you fancy ringing, check it against the Methods Committee’s definitive list. Have fun!

Roger Bailey
August 2010