The variation grew out of Tibetan chess, in which a black unit changes colour when it captures a white piece of a different type. It is named after the German town of Andernach, which is the site of annual meetings of fairy chess enthusiasts. It was during the 1993 meeting there that Andernach chess was introduced with a chess problem composing tourney for Andernach problems. It has since become a popular variant in problem composition, though it has not yet become popular as a game-playing variant.
A variant on Andernach chess is anti-Andernach, in which pieces except kings change colour after non-captures, but stay the same colour after a capture.