Ringing World National Youth Contest
Results in St Michael-le-Belfrey, Deangate
The Contest was judged by Simon Linford, Ryan Mills, Helen Beaumont and David Lesse, who presented the results of their deliberations at the end of the afternoon. Simon said that the grades were not directly comparable to previous years. “The bells are very much more difficult, the judges are different and might have different opinions. So if you get the same grade as last year you’ve probably done well and don’t be disheartened if you get a lower one. These grades are relative to the other grades on the day, although we were pretty clear in our minds what sort of ringing we expected to hear in each grade band. We have given a greater range of grades this year, to recognise the spread of performances today. Now you have probably all practiced hard for this competition and in doing so will have become better ringers. The knock-on effect of striking competitions is that they improve our ringing which will be appreciated by those who hear our service ringing week in, week out. It has probably brought you closer together as bands and as friends and it enables us to have great days out like this one.”
Ryan said that their method of judging was relatively straight-forward. “Helen, David and I independently marked each row while Simon listened. The marking was done on a scale from zero to two: 0 was given for a row that was quite good, 1 to rows that contained a clip or a gap, and 2 to any row containing multiple clips or clashes. The scores that we gave were then totaled and entered into Simon’s magic spreadsheet. They were normalised and averaged and a percentage produced which we could then compare. We followed this process with a discussion of how we were going to grade the pieces. We based this grade on the percentage and our impression of the ringing.”
Next Helen said that they thought that these were very good bells for a striking competition. “The odd-struckness tested most teams and we noticed that the 6th and the 2nd particularly caused problems. With one notable exception we thought that teams weren’t making enough use of their practice time as most of the test pieces got better as they went along, so more practice would have been beneficial. In general the handstrokes were better than the backstrokes, and this was mainly due to bells dropping at backstroke. There was also a tendency towards closed handstroke leads, which often caused problems later in the row. For those ringing call-changes the Queens was always risky because of the second – and extra care should have been taken here. In the majority of change ringing, teams demonstrated a common Triples problem of the tenor being slow over the front bells and the seventh then hitting the tenor at the following backstroke. However the teams that mastered these issues achieved some very good ringing.”
Simon then gave the following details of how each team had rung:
Team 1 (Lichfield & Walsall) Call Changes – Grade C
It is always difficult to go first, although it means you can relax and enjoy the rest of the day! We were aware of the odd-struckness of the bells, particularly 5, 6, 7 and 8. This band headed off towards Queens with the front bells giving a good lead. Indeed the treble ringing was very good, and the tenor set a steady beat. It tended to fall over itself towards the end of the changes. The transitions between changes were almost all clean, and although you stayed in the feature rows a long time, you didn’t actually manage to make these rows better as you went along, which was a shame. There was a steady accumulation of faults though, particularly early on as you got used to the odd- struckness and we thought this could have been polished up with a little more direction.
Team 2 (Sussex Young Ringers) Call Changes – Grade B+
This was a bit more measured, and our local knowledge felt that this speed was good for the bells. A nicely controlled piece with good changes, some very good ringing, and mastery of the odd-struckness in the main. 1 2 3 were very deliberate, sometimes taking up more of the row than you are actually entitled to, causing problems towards the end of the change. The backstrokes weren’t quite as controlled as the handstrokes. The feature changes were very good – half a dozen really good Queens rows were the bonus feature. So overall a solid, controlled piece of ringing.
Team 3 (St Martin’s Youths) Call Changes – Grade C-
This was a good positive start although we thought there was some early difficulty handling some of the bells. The changes weren’t quite decisive enough so each new row took time to settle and gaps in the middle of the change weren’t giving the back bells many options. If the tenor was accommodating, it tended to get hit by the beginning of the next row. The best row was 17523468, and there was a perfect Whittingtons row. This didn’t really have enough clean ringing in it unfortunately, however it was getting better and showed promise.
Team 4 (Essex Young Eagles) Call Changes – Grade B
This team started with some of the best ringing so far. It was positive, starting and finishing well. It was however let down by quite a few indecisive changes, and the more the front bells got mixed up, the less controlled it became. Well done to the ringer of the second for holding off at backstroke more in the test piece than the practice. We wondered if you had been found a box! We liked the Whittingtons, and it was a shame the Queens wasn’t as sharp. So there is clearly some talent here and this was not far off realising its potential.
Team 5 (Les Beaux Belles of South Lincolnshire) Call Changes – Grade C-
You started well, as many teams did, but then struggled to get to grips with the enormity of the challenge. It would probably have benefitted from going a little quicker, as it stumbled along in parts, and got slower. There was a nice transition into Whittingtons, and an even better first row of Queens which I thought emerged like a beautiful butterfly. But then the butterfly got knocked by a lot of rather large raindrops. So this band had endeavour, and will gain from more experience.
Team 6 (The Blue Lines) Call Changes – Grade B-
The test piece was preceded by a lengthy team talk, which may have been on the merits of closed handstroke leads. The effect of closed handstroke leads tends to be that a gap has to appear somewhere later on in the row, and this did suffer from that. It was frustrating because there was some good ringing here, but punctuated by dropped backstrokes. The difficult bells were rung very well, with a steady beat from the tenor keeping the framework together. This band therefore had potential to do well, but with a few creases to be ironed out.
Team 7 (Derbyshire Dingers) Call Changes – Grade A (78%)
David wanted to award this band an F for not ringing Grandsire! We thought they came with a game plan itching to be executed. And indeed they did. It was fast and furious, possibly too fast at times because there was a tendency for it to fall over itself, and one section in particular with some dropped backstrokes. But it is easy to be over-critical of good ringing, and this was very nice to listen to. A pretty experienced band perhaps? Maybe you ought to ring Grandsire next year.
Team 8 (Vectis Youths) Call Changes – Grade D
This was a valiant effort from what we expect was an inexperienced band not used to ringing bells as tricky as these. Including Tittums, which is the most difficult change to strike on 8, was commendably ambitious, and the best row of all was in the Queens. If this had been wedding ringing you’d have stuck at Queens and perfected it, but of course you had to move on. You did pick up a lot of faults, we cannot deny that, although it would probably have helped you to open out the handstroke leads more, which helps with the framework. Stick with it, come back next year – the bells in Worcester will be easier than these.
Team 9 (The G. & B.) Grandsire Triples – Grade A-
We were woken from our lunchtime snooze by the first method ringing of the day. This was very positive with a clear sense of purpose and a steady beat throughout. There were a couple of mistakes but you recovered well and they had minimal impact. You did have a bit of the common Triples problem of the end of the handstroke row holding out, and then the tenor getting rapped by the start of the backstroke, but this is a minor criticism. We thought the treble was rung particularly well. So a good enjoyable start to the afternoon – well done.
Team 10 (Worcester Young Ringers) Call Changes – Grade B
This team didn’t give us any clue as to what their test piece would be because of an unusual lack of practice. But after plenty of rounds and then a signal we found out it was call changes. There was some good solid ringing in this. Closed handstroke leading throughout generated gaps in 3rds and 4ths place, although the 2nd stuck to the treble like glue. The 6th didn’t seem to like ringing over the 7th, which was odd given how good the rounds were. This piece therefore had an accumulation of minor faults rather than anything dramatic, so a solid effort with some grade A ringing.
Team 11 (Oxford D.G.) Plain Bob Triples – Grade B
We gave your signal an F! However we didn’t really mark that. This was a competent touch of Bob Triples, with a steady compass provided by the tenor. It could have done with a little more drive, because it was a bit stilted in places and didn’t settle into consistency. There were a number of method mistakes but you recovered well so not a big issue. We did struggle with this piece only because there wasn’t much to criticise, but it didn’t shine as much as it could have. Overall though it was a pretty good piece of ringing.
Team 12 (Lincolnshire Poachers) Call Changes – Grade B
After a confidently short practice, you got into your call changes which I described as a very satisfactory piece of wedding ringing, in that it sounded pleasant, made the most of Queens and Whittingtons, and by and large you avoided hitting each other. So you would have been good for your fee. Closer inspection by the trained ear did however pick out some faults in the detail. Queens wasn’t actually that great, and there was more fault avoidance than pzazz. Didn’t quite reach the promised land, but definitely heading in the right direction.
Team 13 (Suffolk Young Ringers) Plain Bob Triples – Grade C
A nice pull off which always impresses the judges, and some brisk rounds before you set off nicely into Plain Bob Triples, before almost grinding to a halt. The method ringing was good – I don’t think we detected any mistakes, but it was a bit lumpy, with a steady accumulation of blips, and not enough faultless rows. I bet you wish you were on more familiar bells because we didn’t think you quite mastered these, but you clearly are confident at ringing the method and are probably capable of more.
Team 14 (Bath & Wells) Call Changes – Grade B-
Sadly we disqualified this team for giving the incorrect signal. Only kidding! These were purposeful call changes, maybe a tad slow, although quick handstroke leading did give us gaps in 3rds and 4ths place. You are to be congratulated for giving us all three feature rows, with Whittingtons the best of them. It was a drip, drip, drip of faults, with nothing really standing out, but it didn’t really deliver on flavour. A good effort though.
Team 15 (Yorkshire Puds) Plain Bob Triples – Grade C
Most of this band was ringing Plain Bob Triples most of the time. This was an entertaining performance – the first Act finished quite abruptly but then you decided to start again, we started marking afresh, and you delivered a markable test piece within the time. It was frustrating though. You proved you could do it, the back bells drove it along mercilessly, and although there were faults, it was determined. We surmised that if this was a quarter peal you would have spent another two courses learning the method and then got some very good ringing.
Team 16 (Bedfordshire) Call Changes – Grade A (80%)
I started to worry at this point that the rules I wrote about what the signal should be might not be clear enough. It is supposed to be 1-2 1-2, 1-2 1-2! Anyway, I set aside my mild irritation and listened to what was a foot-tapping set of call changes – very tactical competition ringing. You stayed in Queens for ages and it was about the best Queens of the day with 1 and 2 very good. You also stayed in Tittums for ages, but this was less of a good idea because it didn’t quite hit the spot. Faults were only minor and there were stretches of very good ringing. This was right up there, causing us to go back and think carefully about the call changes of an earlier team.
Finally David announced the results and called the teams forward to collect their medals.
Note: the official team photographs are published with this article in The Ringing World issue #5337 on pp 792-5.