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The Amazing Race 5: Thinking Smart in Episode 2by Jeffrey Clinard -- 07/19/2004
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With the insights eliminated team Erika and Dennis shed on the race, some of the ways teams should be thinking have changed. Not many, but a few. If Fast Forwards are available on only a limited number of legs (only two, according to their interview with RNO), then the strategy to use them is out the window, in favor of a new one. The new question to ask is if the team is in first place. If a team is in first place, taking it probably won’t change anything, unless it is a late leg (in which case, they should take it). If not, try to grab it. It also alters Yield strategy. If a team is behind at a Fast Forward, they might as well Yield a team behind them. It provides some of the benefit (causing a team to lose time), and they probably don’t have to deal with the whole Fast Forward concept. Frankly, if this is the trade, it’s a bad one. Fast Forwards were a good element of the game. Yield is less so, and if I had to pick one, Fast Forward would be the one to keep.
The first major problem teams ran into during this leg of the race was going to the wrong cemetery. Nearly half the teams made this basic error, though admittedly it was a bit tricky as Evita Peron rests in a different location than her husband. The real problem is that while teams did a good job communicating with the locals on the ferry in order to find out the location, many of them got bad information. What the teams didn’t do was confirm the location with the cab drivers. The cab drivers all knew where the grave of Evita Peron was. It’s a lesson for future legs of the race - cab drivers are one of the best sources of local information.
The detour provided a choice of dog walking or tango dancer identification. I’ve been wrong before when I considered which detour option I would take - and I may been wrong this time as well. Last week I was questioned on the use of Chips or Zips, so I decided to check it out myself. I had dinner at a resort / casino in Las Vegas and watched the roulette table afterwards. Four spins took six minutes. That included two people cashing out, and one person buying into the table. Six minutes - to save an hour (or lose six minutes). It looks like Chips was the better option.
However, in this case, I’d have gone for the dog-walking, which might have been a slower option. It’s a case where my knowledge of the history of the race would have backfired. The Masquerade Ball from Amazing Race 4 would have scared me out of a photographic matching game. In trying to walk the dogs, I’d have lost a lot of time. I would have hoped I could gain it back by taking a taxi instead of a bus (I would always go for the fast transport instead of the cheapest one). I hope I wouldn’t have lost based on that.
The roadblock was almost irrelevant, but getting to the roadblock proved the undoing of Alison and Donny. In short, whenever there is a choice of transportation, teams should generally go for the faster one. The teams that took buses suffered in this leg of the race. Indeed, the 70 mile trip from Buenos Aries to the cattle ranch was the most important section of this leg. The longer it took, the worse a team finished. Just ask the teams that took the bus - or the team whose cab needed refueling during the middle of the journey.
So in the order of their finish, which teams were thinking smart in episode 2?
Brandon and Nicole: This team was impressive, reasoning out what detour option to take and racing well throughout the entire leg. Indeed, their first place finish is a result of first-rate racing through the entire leg. In fact, they raced so well, I’m disappointed they didn’t win a vacation.
Mirna and Charla: What was smart: Asking anybody for directions (including a prostitute), getting a lift at the cemetery, and getting the people to hold the ferry for them. Not so smart: Not driving at the speed limit, spending excessive time getting directions (nearly causing them to miss the ferry), and stiffing the bowling moms as they appropriated transport at the cemetery, making themselves an enemy. However, you’ve still gotta love that whistle of Charla’s - this time it got them that lift which saved valuable time.
Jim and Marsha: Getting suckered into a currency exchange was bad on two fronts - they lost time and they lost money (on the exchange rate). However, they recovered nicely with nearly error-free racing after getting trapped and did a great job gaining time to eventually finish in third place. In fact, if they hadn’t gotten suckered by the bowling moms, they could easily have finished in first place during this leg.
Linda and Karen: It was a devious move to convince Jim and Marsha to change their currency, but they’ve made an enemy, and they might find themselves yielded in a future leg by “the gimps.” While they originally decided to walk the dogs, they eventually cut their losses on the task and ended up in fourth place.1 2 Next-->
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