Straight to the point, Cinder has been associated with the Queen piece from chess. The virus had a picture of a queen (seems like a virus shouldn't show a picture when infecting something, but whatever...) and a mail from Qrow was named "Queen has pawns" possibly referring to Cinder aquiring accomplices (Mercury and Emerald). The queen is a powerful piece in a game of chess. It can mirror almost all of the moves of the other pieces, except for one. This piece is also very useful to hunt the queen. This piece is the knight piece. Which team had the white knight pieces? Team RWBY. I don't really know what conclusion I should draw from this, but I thought I should share this "coincidence."
Many have speculated as to what the chess motif is all about but nobody doubts that there is symbolism there.
From my perspective, Cinder was always a pawn up until she got Maiden powers. Then she became the Queen (although others have argued that the Queen is Salem).
I prefer that Salem is the King because if Salem dies then the entire syndicate will fall apart while Cinder could die and they would still have leadership. Additionally, the Queen can land powerful long range attacks. In RWBY, long ranged attacks are pretty nerfed except for, wait for it, Maiden powers. More evidence that Cinder is the Queen.
Furthermore, the battle style of Remnent is a lot like chess. The characters often have to deal a critical physical blow in order to end their opponent. Additionally, only one character attacks at a time and when they do a combo attack it is only to call out ship names.
Hmm, good point. That would definitely explain why Ozpin didn't just end Cinder directly, the King piece rarely fights his own battles, he was simply wearing her down for his ace in the hole to land the killing blow. And it almost worked. Yes, that defiitely explains a lot of what happened in the last episode of Volume 3, not to mention most of the series. Salem and Ozpin's seemingly eternal conflict seems to be one big chess game, Salem won the first arc but the game is far from over, now Ozpin is incognito, free to enact whatever plans he has in mind without Salem thwarting him. Very clever man, that Ozpin.