Here's your chance to get something back for all those hours you spent building that perfect T-SQL solution. Tell SQL Server Magazine about your problem and how you solved it, and if we publish your solution, you'll see your name in print and receive a cool T-SQL Black Belt shirt.

SQL Server Magazine is launching a new column called "T-SQL Black Belt" to highlight readers' advanced T-SQL coding solutions. Contributing editor Itzik Ben-Gan kicked off the column in the July issue with "Using Joins to Modify Data,". To participate in the column, just send a description of your problem, why it was difficult to solve, and the T-SQL code that finally did the trick to blackbelt@sqlmag.com.

Ben-Gan, a SQL Server MVP and co-author of the upcoming book Advanced Transact-SQL for SQL Server 2000 (Apress), will comb through your submissions, looking for clever solutions that maximize SQL Server's power. Although we never say "never," we'll give preference to SQL Server-specific submissions and back-end rather than client-side solutions.

What kinds of creative T-SQL techniques can you use? The sky's the limit, but here are some ideas that might get you started: creative date manipulation, unusual use of system functions, derived tables, correlated subqueries, CASE expressions, cubes and rollup functions, user-defined functions, relatively unknown tips for leveraging the power of SQL Server Enterprise Manager, linked servers, untapped Data Transformation Services (DTS) techniques, DBA utilities that use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) scripts, and undocumented but unbelievably useful techniques. If the coding solution makes you stop and say "Wow!" we want to see it.

Your submission (problem description and core code solution) should fit on one magazine page (approximately 700 words). If you have supporting code that goes beyond this word limit, include it as an addendum. We may decide to post the additional code on the SQL Server Magazine Web site. Don't be afraid to submit a solution just because you've never been published and you're concerned that your writing skills might be on the weak side. Polishing and clarifying articles is why the magazine has great editors on board! (You should see my column before the editors get their hands on it.)

On another note, last week, I suggested you contact The Association for Competitive Technology to let your representatives know how you feel about the Microsoft antitrust case or to stay abreast of the latest happenings. A reader noted that Microsoft has a similar site called Freedom to Innovate.