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A Tribute to Agnes: The World's Best Game Box Holder
Joe Gola
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I was reading a particular Estonian photojournalist's recent geeklist about gaming with his family, and, with respect to his similarly Estonian girlfriend Agnes A., he had this to say:

binraix wrote:
I like box holding pictures and she is the best one at box holding. Not kidding.

Not just a good box holder, mind you, or even a great box holder, but the best. A lofty claim, to be sure! I must confess that I was intrigued, and so I immediately set to work comparing her box-holding technique against others' here on BGG. After long, arduous minutes of study, I could only come to the same conclusion: Agnes is the best. What follows are the results of my scientific research. Please enjoy.

Addendum: many humble thanks for the GG tips. I will be sure to split the take with LilyGirl, since she did all the hard work. The other half will go towards "girl with game box" and "LilyGirl fan" microbadges.
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1. Board Game: Toss Your Cookies [Average Rating:5.44 Overall Rank:9321]
Joe Gola
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Here we have a typical Agnes box-holding picture, this one taken from the "Red Shirt" period. There are many interesting details to note. The center of the box is held roughly two-fifths of the distance from center of forehead (or "third eye") to navel, which corresponds to Michelangelo's aesthetic theory of "the golden division." Modern science backs this up: studies have shown that human beings are 85% more likely to have a favorable impression of an object when it is held at this location, proportionately speaking. Fascinatingly, this ratio also corresponds to the harmonic scale in music, namely the sound wavelengths of the the I-IV-V chord progression.

Note too the subtle five degree rotation. To our eyes this translates to an almost imperceptible uptrending, with connotations of optimism and personal progress.

Bravo, Agnes. Bravo.
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2. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:161]
Joe Gola
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For comparison I have chosen this photograph of an unidentified person holding up a copy of Settlers of Catan. Now, we can point to many problems here: the lack of confidence, a certain sense of being "lost" perhaps, the ungainly slope to the shoulders, and the evasiveness about the eyes. We see no harmonious proportions here between the vertical and horizontal axes, and above all else his mustache is uneven, making the entire picture seem to lean to the right and thus causing a feeling of imbalance and seasickness in the viewer.

A picture such as this might seem passable to a newcomer to the game-holding arts, but the true aficionado is sure to hold it in disdain.
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3. Board Game: Yahtzee Jr. [Average Rating:4.93 Overall Rank:10823]
Joe Gola
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Another classic. Note how the game is held slightly away from the body to accentuate its presence. The box rests ever so lightly on her knee to suggest a feeling of welcome casualness, which seems appropriate to Pokemon Yahtzee Junior.
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4. Board Game: Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:10267]
Joe Gola
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I'm not sure what to say about this one except that it fills me with disappointment. The two women hold the game down at their midriff as though it were something incidental that they were carrying, like a sack of mail or some friend's false teeth. The game is tipped slightly forward, and so pointing not at the camera but the ground. A rookie mistake! Also, what is the deal with that skirt? It looks like she tied a scrap of paper bag around her waist. I give these two a C- for effort.
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5. Board Game: Wacky Wacky West [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:1693]
Joe Gola
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More from the Red Shirt period. Note the simple calmness and serenity; her fingers are even curled in the traditional fingertip-to-thumb Buddhist meditation position. Just looking at this picture makes me want to light a candle and put on a CD of whale songs.
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6. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:84]
Joe Gola
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Sigh. Where to start? That's not some ham hock to throw in a pot, Mr. Whoever-you-are, it's Ticket to Ride. Show some friggen respect. If you can't hold it right, just put it down already. You're embarrassing yourself.
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7. Board Game: Whoowasit? [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1730]
Joe Gola
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Thank God we can get back to Agnes after that last shameful display. I don't know what the hell this weird-named game is, but, damn it, I want one. To me, Agnes's face says, "I know something secret about owls, and wouldn't you like to know what it is?" Yes I would.
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8. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:359]
Joe Gola
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Nice. Don't take it out of the bag or anything. Yeah, just wedge it into your sweaty armpit, that's perfect.

Amateur.
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9. Board Game: Barn-Alfapet [Average Rating:4.22 Unranked]
Joe Gola
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A stylish pose, I dare say, but still it's all about the game. Her eyes have drifted away, as though remembering some honey-hued past. Wistful, should we say? Yes, wistful. I feel wistful now too.
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10. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:26]
Joe Gola
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Apparently it takes three Dutchmen to hold up a board game. It would seem that the Estonians are made of a somewhat more hardy stock. Even one flimsy little Estonian girl can manage it. These flag enthusiasts could learn a lot from Agnes.
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11. Board Game: Draco [Average Rating:6.56 Unranked]
Joe Gola
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Another perfect confluence of technique and charm. Once again we see the two-fifths rule in action. So lightly the game is held, as though a humble offering to a benevolent queen! I don't know what kind of dirty jerk you would have to be not to want to play Draco after seeing this photo, but I imagine that such a person would be a terrible disappointment to his or her parents.
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12. Board Game: Kachina [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2467]
Joe Gola
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In the box-holding arts, posture is everything, so obviously we can tell that this guy is some kind of world-class failure right off the bat. I mean, really, he's not even holding the damn thing straight! What, is he riding in a canoe? I'm sorry, but this just pisses me off. It's bush league. I wouldn't pay this guy to hold up a friggen can of corn. A potato maybe, and only if no one important was going to see it. I mean, if I had a bunch of drunken hunchback servants who nobody liked, I might send Mr. Bow Tie in to show them a potato if they had never seen one, but then if he started carrying it around town with him and tried to show it off to ordinary decent folk, I would slap it out his hands. That's what I think of his crap-ass box holding technique.
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13. Board Game: Novem [Average Rating:5.19 Overall Rank:9509]
Joe Gola
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Photographer Puust informs us that this was taken on Agnes's graduation day. Now, any other young lady would probably be busy throwing a square hat into the air, conspicuously wearing sunglasses, and sneaking off into the woods to drink fortified wine and smoke cigarettes with her loser friends. Not Agnes! Instead she is taking time out of her special day to do her part for the board game community. That is what you call dedication. Our American youth could learn a lot from this plucky Estonian's work ethic.

I predict a bright future for this young go-getter.
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14. Board Game: Age of Napoleon [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1121]
Joe Gola
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I'm sorry, but this guy is totally phoning it in. Thanks for nothing, beardy.
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15. Board Game: Mutiny! [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:5872]
Joe Gola
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Infectious joy!
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16. Board Game: Atlantic Star [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:753]
Joe Gola
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Just regular infectious.
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17. Board Game: Heimlich & Co. [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1220]
Joe Gola
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I wonder what Agnes is thinking about, don't you? Perhaps she worries about the state of our world and the turbulent times we live in. Perhaps she wonders when Estonia will finally bloom into a prominent force on the world cultural stage. Perhaps she's thinking about where she can pick up some more sweet swan tureens.

Some people say that Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" embodies the soul of feminine mystery, but next to Agnes that lady looks like some kind of frumpy dork. I don't know if they had board games back in those days, but if she ever picked one up and tried to show it to someone I would scold her harshly.
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18. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:95]
Joe Gola
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This lady looks sort of familiar to me, but that doesn't change the fact that she has no place holding game boxes. I could see her maybe holding up a prize for a county fair pie-eating contest or something. Possibly she could be the Vanna White person on a really terrible game show on local cable access. Instead of turning around letters she would turn around pictures of famous mustaches, and contestants would have to guess who they belonged to. The TV show would tank after only a few episodes, of course, and so she would have to go back to her regular day job at the petting zoo handing children bags of kibbles and warning them not to tease the goats. Sometimes she would think about picking things up and showing them to people just like the old days, but the memories of failure would be too painful, and so she would get drunk on T.J. Swann's "Mellow Days" and try to seduce the traveling salesmen over at the Holiday Inn by the airport. Do I feel sorry for her? Not really.
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19. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:29]
Joe Gola
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Some cylons are made of chrome, and some cylons are made of sassy!
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20. Board Game: Fortress America [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:938]
Joe Gola
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Apparently some hobo has wandered into a game convention and has mistaken Fortress America for an unwanted cardboard box that he can use as a mattress back at the underpass where he lives. I hope somebody at least gave him a bowl of soup and a clean shirt before they threw him out. I almost don't mind that he's doing a half-assed job at holding up this game box. I mean, let the poor bastard dream. It's all he's got.
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21. Board Game: He & She [Average Rating:4.59 Overall Rank:10281]
Joe Gola
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In closing, I think we can all agree that Agnes is the best game box holder of all time. Viva Agnes! Hooray for Estonia! Three cheers for Boardgamegeek!

Thanks too to the other box-holders who were forced into being good sports: game designer Klaus Teuber, the two booth bunnies, game designer Alan Moon, Australian Blokus champion Michael Coulton, the three Dutch contest winners, my hero Reiner Knizia, Greg Silva of the astounding beard, game designer Dirk Henn, "Frasette," and Scott Alden, whoever that is.
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