I have created a temp table and inserted the values as given below.

create table #temp( val int );

insert into #temp values(333);
insert into #temp values(222);
insert into #temp values(111);

On querying the below select statement I got 333 as the answer.

Select * 
from #temp a 
Where 1 =(
    Select COUNT(VAL) 
    from #temp b 
    where a.val <= b.val




Can you please help me understand how SQL server came to this solution.

  • SQL server returned exactly what you requested. What is your expected result? Jan 21, 2020 at 10:00
  • @DenisRubashkin, Can you please explain how did query return 333?
    – l.lijith
    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:03
  • You ask server to find the record for which there exists only one record with the value of val equal or greater (so this 'only one' is this record itself) if it is alone (count=1, not duplicated). And you obtain strictly the record which matches this conditions. Why you're surprised?
    – Akina
    Jan 21, 2020 at 10:15

2 Answers 2


Rewrite your query such a way:

SELECT a.*, x.cnt
FROM #temp a
    FROM #temp b
    WHERE a.val <= b.val
) x
--WHERE x.cnt = 1

If you uncomment the where clause you would get 333 | 1 as a result. You request a row from the outer table which doesn't have duplicates or bigger values.


You could see your inner count query

Select COUNT(VAL) from #temp b  
where a.val <= b.val;


(Select COUNT(VAL) from #temp b  
where 333 <= 333,222,111) = 1

(Select COUNT(VAL) from #temp b  
where 222 <= 333,222,111) = 2

(Select COUNT(VAL) from #temp b  
where 111 <= 333,222,111) = 3

Showing that only 333 from #temp a has one match, as it has only one equals to or smaller than match with the 3 values in #temp b.

This returns a count of 1 and is why the value 333 from #temp a is returned.

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