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The Amazing Race 9: Thinking Smart in Episode 3by Jeffrey Clinard -- 03/20/2006
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I admit when I first saw the previews for this episode, I was annoyed to see the search among the thousands of Russian nesting dolls for a clue. It reminded me of the hay bales in Sweden during The Amazing Race 6, where the luck factor ended up eliminating a team (Lena & Kristy). At the time I wrote there is a place for frustrating, luck-based tasks, but the hay bales were not fun to watch.
Fortunately, the frustrating, luck-based task did find its place in this episode, being one of the choices a team could make during the detour. If teams wanted to gamble on finding a clue, they had a choice in the matter. Granted, I donít think any team in their right mind should have opted for searching the nesting dolls, unless they were dead last and desperate. Indeed, few teams chose that task initially, though many went for it after being unable to locate the trolley depot. However, gambling by trying to find one of ten clues hidden among 1,500 nesting dolls was not my idea of a smart decision. A kicker was that each doll needed to be put back together again, meaning there was no elimination of possibilities for subsequent teams that decided to take that chance.
The task also one of the little jokes I think the producers sometimes like to play on the teams. The Trabant cars in The Amazing Race 6 were one of them, where teams were given troublesome cars, which could easily have put a team out of the race if it had been a complete leg. It made for some fun footage of frustrated teams but never would have led to the elimination of a team due to the double leg they sprung on the teams. The same will apply here, with frustrated teams eventually completing the task and seeing elimination looming, only to have Phil hand them another clue. Teams will stall out shortly waiting for a train, bus, hours of operation, or the like, allowing Phil time to race ahead to the next locations in advance of the racing teams.
Another interesting thing happened in this leg when two different sets of teams decided to save money by sharing a taxicab. Granted, it does save money, but there is a downside to cab sharing. Both teams either move at the pace of the slowest team, or they eventually have to get separate cabs. If teams wish to save money by sharing a cab, it should be done at the first stages of a leg. In later stages it may very well come down to a showdown situation for last place. We donít know where Lori & Dave and Monica & Joseph will end up in this half leg, but they could easily regret staying together. In the other shared cab, Eric & Jeremy had to cut loose Dani & Danielle because the later team forgot some important baggage.
Finally, Iíll never understand teams that donít read the clue and try to put it into context before selecting somebody to perform a roadblock. Teams were at a diving training facility, and the clue asked who was ready to take the plunge. It didnít seem to take a rocket scientist to figure out they would be jumping into the diving pool rather than trying to unclog a toilet. Still, a couple of teams didnít seem to put two and two together and had a rougher time of the roadblock than they should have.
The first half of the double leg spanned South America to Moscow, Russia, but all we know is that Eric & Jeremy were the first to finish the half leg. Still, what teams were thinking smart in episode 3?
Eric & Jeremy: First place, and, well... they got lucky. They originally wanted to do the scrub detour but ended up telling their cab driver to take them to either of the locations and ended up searching the nesting dolls. Granted, they were having difficulty with the language barrier, and this was the path of least resistance to move forward in the race. After that, they had the good fortune to find a clue quickly and got to Phil in Red Square faster than any other team. It wasnít exactly smart racing, but there is no denying the results.
Lake & Michelle: This team continues to make mistakes, but they always seem to make them at the beginning of each leg, where the time can usually be made up by smarter racing from that point forward. This time they got lost going to the zip line and lost a position and some steam, but it ultimately didnít make any difference. Despite wanting to wash the trolley, they ended up playing Follow That Car with Ray & Yolanda and searching the nesting dolls. They got lucky there and left in second place.
Ray & Yolanda: Iím not sure what to make of this team. They didnít seem to think about the clue at the roadblock, which led to Yolanda doing a task Ray probably should have handled. However, she came through in the end. This team also decided to search the nesting dolls. I donít think that was the smartest choice, but it ended up working in their favor. They got lucky and look to be in third place at this point due to that luck.
BJ & Tyler: The hippies led for much of the race, completing the roadblock first and making the first detour decision. However, they ran into problems and could not locate the trolley station, eventually abandoning that option and going to the nesting dolls. There they had some relative luck, finding one and leaving in the fourth position. They were racing fairly well, but overall karma worked for them as their bad luck in finding the trolley was cancelled by their good luck in finding a clue in the nesting dolls.
Wanda & Desiree: This team trailed for much of the leg, getting a late start out of the Moscow airport, then picking the wrong team member to complete the roadblock. This resulted in a lot of wasted time. They were fortunate that other teams made mistakes or had problems finding (or completing) the detours, or that performance could have easily meant elimination. What they did right was having their cab wait for them at the monastery, meaning they didnít have to try to catch another one once they left the location. As it stands, they have a decent position going into the second half of the double leg.
Dani & Danielle: There is a reason why one of my thinking smart tips is to take care of your possessions. Lake may have been annoying when he yelled at Michelle to never take off the race pack, but he was right. This team wasted a bunch of time and lost all the benefits of the shared cab ride with Eric & Jeremy by having to return to the roadblock to retrieve their clues, money, and passports. Their return helped to energize Wanda & Desiree and could have spelled disaster on this leg.
Fran & Berry: This team jumped from last place to even ground at the airport, despite getting on the last bus. Then they did a good job getting to the roadblock and completing it, and made a right move in deciding on the scrub option. However, they eventually went to scour and had an all too familiar look on their face - one that shows they are in some mild despair. As the last team to be working on this detour option, the look has some basis in fact. They just didnít have the luck the other teams have had at this detour.
Joseph & Monica: This team saved some money by sharing a cab with Dave & Lori, but may be about to discover the downside of that action. They arrived at the trolley depot with the other dating couple, but two teams are ahead of them and they should fear elimination after the trouble they had finding the location. If they finish the detour first, theyíll have to make a choice of whether to leave the Dave & Lori behind and incur their wrath or stick with them and face what they think is possible elimination.
Dave & Lori: This couple followed pretty much the same route Joseph & Monica took, sticking with them through most of the leg. If these two teams are smart, they will have their cab driver call dispatch to obtain a second car so each of them can complete the final segment based on their own speed in cleaning the trolley. I also liked the way this team approached the task, with Dave working the outside and Lori doing the inside. Itís a good way to do it.
Jeffrey Clinard has been writing about The Amazing Race since the first edition, writing over 100 articles about it for RealityNewsOnline since itís premier season. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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