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I realize this is is a bit of a specialized question, but I'm trying to figure out what to call a person who plays chess or go professionally. I'm aware of the term 棋士 (きし) / プロ棋士 in professional Shogi, and was wondering if this term could be used for other people like this or if it's specifically something from Shogi's history.

In the latter case, what would one call someone who plays either chess or go at a professional level?

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The word 'go' is derived from the kanji [碁]{ご} which is pronounced [go]. '' means

man (esp. one who is well-respected)

Therefore, [棋士]{きし} literally translates to 'a respected man in the game of go and shogi' (The kanji 棋 is also used in '将 (shogi)').

This term applies not only to a shogi (professional) player, but also to a go (professional) player. You need to note that it is also used for amateur players.

チェス (Chess) is also called '[西洋将棋]{せいようしょうぎ} (Western shogi)' and there is no reason not to use 'チェス棋士'.

As commented by @Matt below, "チェスプレヤー (chess player)" is a lot more common.

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  • Thanks for the quick response! That covers the game of go, but for completeness, would it be put of place if I used the term for a chess player?
    – DTR
    Aug 18, 2016 at 7:55
  • @DTR I edited my answer.
    – Rathony
    Aug 18, 2016 at 8:00
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    It's certainly possible to use "チェス棋士", but I think "プレヤー" is a lot more common. Just as an additional FYI!
    – Matt
    Aug 18, 2016 at 9:33
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    チェスについては単にプレイヤーと言います。棋士だと多分通じません。 Aug 18, 2016 at 10:04
  • @Matt Thanks for your comment. I edited my answer.
    – Rathony
    Aug 18, 2016 at 10:14

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