Today’s TSQL post is an answer to a puzzle posted by Adam Machanic. I learnt something new via this puzzle today. The puzzle is as below – what would this query return?

SELECT * FROM(VALUES(1),(2)) AS x(i) WHERE EXISTS (SELECT MAX(i) FROM (VALUES(1)) AS y(i) WHERE y.i=x.i)

Upon looking at it, I thought I would get 1 row (1) – ecause the second where condition was looking for matches to 1. But I got two rows, 1 and 2. So I broke up the query as below to dig further:

SELECT * FROM

(VALUES(1),(2)) AS x(i) WHERE

EXISTS (SELECT MAX(i) FROM (VALUES(1)) AS y(i) WHERE y.i=x.i)

–this returns two rows , 1 and 2

SELECT * FROM (VALUES(1),(2)) AS x(i)

–this also returns 1 and 2

SELECT MAX(i) FROM (VALUES(1)) AS y(i)

–this returns 1

SELECT MAX(i) FROM (VALUES(2)) AS y(i)

–this returns 2

SELECT * FROM (VALUES(1),(2)) AS x(i) WHERE

EXISTS (SELECT MAX(i) FROM (VALUES(1)) AS y(i) WHERE 1=2)

–Bingo, I got my answer!! Even if exists clause is null it still returns two rows , 1 and 2.

This was a very interesting discovery and one that I will always remember when using MAX in and embedded select. Thanks, Adam.

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